The Blackened Skull

The skull of the dragon of dark illusions


Full Item Description
A weathered and blackened lump of bone, largely unrecognizeable. The teeth have long since been stolen and year by year the once grand relic of a continent terrifying dragon shrinks as magi chip pieces from it for their spells. Once adorned with horns and bony crest, the entire mass is now roughly the size of a melon, rough and forty pounds in weight.

It's name now forgotten, the Dragon of Dark Illusion is more a figment from fairy tales than an actual figure in history. During it's living days, this massive serpentine green and gold dragon claimed an entire continent as it's domain and demanded fealty from the hundreds of thousands of mortals who lived there. Monuments were lifted in it's honor and it considered the avatars of the gods as siblings rather than agents of the divine. Yet it is the way of living things to live and then die, and the Dragon of Dark Illusion, for it's terrible might, could not escape death.

Following it's demise, not at the hands and blades of vengeful humanity, but from great age, there was a long silence. Many suspected that this was a ruse from their scaly terrestrial god, others refused to admit that something as permanent as a millenia old dragon would simply just perish one day. Eventually the curious came and investigated. These were rewarded with the dragon's treasure trove and were able to set themselves up as warlords and bandit kings with the spoils of their audacity. Those of a more mystical leaning picked and pried the ancient dragon's body apart for spell components. A vial of dragon's blood was almost priceless, other vital humours doubly so.

For a generation or so, the victuals of the dragon were dissembled and consumed in various ways and means. The blood was consumed in spells, the hide in making shields and armor, the meat itself was devoured in a display of victory over the dead beast. But even such a great supply will run out, and the heyday was forgotten as dragon blood again became rare, and dragonhide armor became family heirlooms instead of general issue. A great amount of time has since passed, and the last piece of the dragon that remains is the upper part of the beast's skull.

Magic/Cursed Properties
The skull of the Dragon of Dark Illusion is still permeated by the essence of the beast's magics even all these centuries later. Simple possession of the skull can increase the basic power of a mage's spells, while using it in casting actual spells can empower them, or be used to increase a spell's range or duration. It's main uses are simple application of magical force to enhance spells, and for making illusion spells more effective. Illusions crafted in the presence of the skull are 90% less likely to be noticed as illusions. Creatures normally immune to illusions are also affected by the illusions cast with the aid of the skull. Thus zombies, normally immune and oblivious to illusions would be stopped by a illusionary wall created with the skull.

But the skull is cursed as well. The Dragon of Dark Illusion hated the mortal races, loathed humans in particular. This has also lingered in the essence of the skull, giving the skull it's curse. Once a mage attunes himself to the skull, a ritual required to gain the relic's powers, he is forever bonded to the lump of bone. Should the mage be seperated from his trophy, his health begins to falter.

The first 24 hours away from the skull causes mild discomfort ranging from nausea to cold chills. The next 48 hours see a steady decline in the mage's strength and energy. 72 hours away from the skull and a normally healthy mage is as tired and weak as a 90 year old man. The next 24 hours leave the magus trapped in bed as their lungs are rgowing too weak to supply the body air. After five days removed from the skull, the magus now withered and weak, perishes.

This death cannot be undone by anything less than divine intervention, and healing spells will do nothing to restore lost health. The malady is one of the spirit and not of the flesh. Once bonded, the mage effectively looses his life force, his soul, to the bony relic. And thus the skull feeds and retains itself a bit longer, mindless and malicious.


? Hall of Honour (2 voters / 2 votes)

Hall of Honour

Cheka Man Wulfhere

? Responses (6)-6

Goto Author

So is the skull surrounded by mages or does a piece of skull bone count? I almost felt sorry for the dead dragon at first. The skull could be used to keep mages in a certain spot to an extent. If a sickened magic user is taken back to the skull does he/she quickly recover?

Goto Author

Some very good questions.

Only one mage at a time can 'own' the skull and suffer from it's curse and powers. The chips that have been cut from it were used as mundane dragon bone for spell usage. Mages could congregate around it but I dont imagine one being willing to share a magic dragon skull with anyone.

If a sickened magus is brought back in proximity with the skull, the maladies caused by seperation are restored at twice the speed they were lost.

Goto Author

...mindless, and malicious.

I like the history! The power of the item is also okay, empowering spells is a useful function, and this is a pretty colorful supportive item for a wizard - with a price, as is proper.


It is the curse, where I am stumped. First it seems quite generic - you die - though there's nothing wrong with that given its origin. But further, it may not be even a curse, or a fault of the item. If you bind your soul to anything, you will probably get into trouble if it is taken from you. I would like to see something more... targeted at mortal users (and especially humans, that were so disgusting to the dragon).

I'm not sure what would it be... perhaps coming back to the original opinions of the noble dragon about those filthy human(oid)s? Could they be seen as creatures barely above animals, apes with tools, always squabbling among themselves, and always killing one another with a great passion and for any reason? No wonder they needed a strong hand(paw) above them. Someone connected with their soul to the skull-piece of the dragon, should get a feel of this attitude.

I admit this can turn easily into the "user will start a world domination tour" cliche, but it doesn't have to. Just let the terrible loathing soak into the soul that is bound to it. Then see what happens.

Goto Author

I've always used a process where to use magical implements, the user would have to 'attune' themselves to it. It is rather like a warrior practicing with a new sword, or a mage reading over his spells before actually memorizing them. The curse of the skull is that when a new user attunes himself to the skull, the skull binds the user's soul to it. It isn't willing on the part of the mage in question.

Goto Author

Quite the picture painted of the dragon! Nice that the dragon did not pass in the obligitory climatic battle.

Goto Author

Well, the idea about the dragon itself is terrific. One of those moments when you know another Strolenite has come up with a great idea.

But, and this pains me, I dislike the cursed effect passionately.

It is simply too cursed. "You lost the relic and now you die. Unless a God saves you, you are dead sucker!"

No. No. No, no, nononono.

As a GM I would have lessened the curse considerably.

+5.0 love the idea

-1.0 strong dislike for the curse