The loot includes a strange wooden coffer, about the size to hold a dinner-service, but a little deeper. The coffer was apparently made by wrapping a thin plank of some dark, exotic wood around the base without breaking it, with a neat dovetail runnIng vertically down the centre of the back (there are also brass hinges ): the overlapping lid is of similar construction, with a beveled edge.
The coffer is decorated with rows of intricate inlay work in lighter woods, of amazingly precise workmanship: the geometric patterns do not seem to be meaningful. Instead of a lock there is an array of sixteen short dowels front and centre, eight on the lid and eight on the body of the coffer. A leather thong is woven through these pins in a pattern that suggests a nest of hibernating snakes. Unwinding the thong is tedious but not difficult: cutting the thong is also a possibility.
Once the thong is unraveled the lid can be flipped open, revealing a bed of royal purple silk. There are eight 'dimples' in the bed, holding (1D4+3) large, creamy white eggs--almost more than a handful in size.
If one is picked up, it will be very heavy and uncommonly unbalanced--it actually seems to push against the holder's hand (think gyroscopes) as if it wants to be dropped. Some sort of DEX roll is needed to avoid dropping the thing and cracking it.
Once cracked, the egg releases a mound of white mist that generates a thick smoke ring on the floor around it, reaching about 3/4m in diameter: a plume of white mist rises about 1.3m from the mound. This apparition quickly develops, like some sort of 3D Polaroid, into a creature rather like a Chinese dragon--elongated blue body, elaborate oversized head, four crocodilian limbs--standing erect like a meerkat: its tail encircled around it develops from the smoke ring. Red and gold accents along the spine and head complete the picture: a dragonling.
The person who drops the egg suffers a brief spasm of migraine-like pain that cuts off instantly, then hears a sibilant mental voice: 'Assk!' The dragonling will answer just one question truthfully, but as literally and (usually) unhelpfully as possible. E.g., the first question will probably be 'What?', and the dragonling will respond 'We are the Children of Ssstakhana.' When the dragonling has given its cryptic answer, it fades back into the mist form, which drifts away on whatever breeze is present, or to the west if none. There will be fallout consisting of orange-yellow dust--maybe a teaspoonful in total--left behind as the form dissipates, and if anyone thinks to check the broken shell, they will find a gold nugget, about one troy ounce--now we know why the eggs are so heavy!
Each dragonling answers just one question, as noted, but the creatures collectively remember prior answers. If the user tries commands, requests etc., he or she is answered sardonically, ' 'Assk!' ', and the use of that particular egg is wasted!
If the thong was cut rather than unwrapped, the answers will be even more unhelpful (see examples below), but if the questioner is a magic using sort (shaman, priest, wizard: at the GM's option, such types as bards and high-level paladins and rangers might also qualify) he or she will receive more-helpful answers.
Q: Where is the nearest great treasure? A: Four hundred leagues below your feet lies enough iron to outfit many armies. Q: How did you get here? A: We were bound by the shaman Black Hawk of the Koatar tribe. Q: How did this coffer get here? A: It was taken by Narvani raiders, who hid it here long ago. Q: Is (my greatest enemy) on my trail? A: Yesss.
These eggs were in fact made by Black Hawk, shaman of the barbarian Koatar tribe. He had a pact with Ssstakhana, a wise, learned and powerful serpentine spirit, and was given eight of its many children to bind into the eggs for divinatory purposes. (Presumably they were meant to be more helpful to the shaman!)
The gold nugget is just a nugget once the egg is used, but if the orange-yellow dust (the colour of egg yolk) could be collected, it could be burned in a fire or smoked in a pipe to bring on a divinatory trance or dream.
It is not well known that these eggs are in fact re-usable. If you can collect the yellow dust, the egg-shell, and the gold nugget, (and you know the True Name of the dragonling spirit involved), then you can perform a ritual to reconstitute the egg: this will cost about half as much (in terms of magical effort, materials, etc) as the original creation. Of course, you will never recover all the dust, so after a few iterations, it will be impossible to remake the egg.
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? Responses (5)
Update: minor edits...
Thanks for such a great idea. Some of the item's themes and backstory fit nicely with the particular RPG (RQ3 and RQ6) I run and play. I was wondering if the eggs regenerated in some fashion? Seems like a lot of work for a Shaman to go through to bind the dragonlings and set up the enchantment only to have it set up as a one-shot-one...er, eight?-kill item. Regardless, well done!
I like this item in a high-fantasy sort of way, from the detailed description of the coffer down to the unhelpful answers. I guess i have the same question as Sunwolfe, is it a one-shot thing? (the eggs)
This is great - the one-shot use means they must be carefully used, but that is not a detriment in my mind.