A small slab of polished granite about 7 inches long by 3 inches wide by half an inch thick, with hieroglyphs engraved on one face. The hieroglyphs are recognisably part of an ancient language, now unreadable to all but a very few (highly specialised) sages. There are no other identifying marks.
There are no moving parts or mechanisms of any king. However the slab does radiate a faint magical aura, which is visible to those who can detect such things.
When any of the hieroglyphs is touched the slab emits an audible 'beep', of the type that would be called 'electronic' in a more technological universe, but nothing else appears to happen. There is no variation in tone or note between the hieroglyphs, all of the hieroglyphs producing exactly the same sound.
The slab is actually the control unit to an ancient magical device or mechanism of some kind (think TV remote control). This can be almost anything the GM can envisage (a slave golem, an air conditioning system, an entertainment device, whatever). Unfortunately, the device is long since lost so the controller now does nothing at all.
Oh, and the beep sound was included by the original enchanters as a kind of 'feedback' to confirm to the user that a hieroglyph had been touched.
Just drop this into a treasure hoard somewhere then sit back and watch your players get really confused.
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? Responses (13)-13
A neat and useless little gadget.
What might be even more entertaining is to have it actually *do* something, just something very subtle or out of the sight of the PCs. Have you seen that one commercial where the guy keeps hitting the switch on his wall trying to figure out what it does when it ends up opening and closing his neighbor's garage door on top of her own car? Mayb esomething like that: a garage door opener in some far-off star system. When the PCs push the hieroglyphs, the door smashes down on the aliens' starcruiser, setting off an intergalactic war unbeknownst to them.
Heheh. Nice one! Oh, and please add it to the Red Herrings codex.
Nothing above having a little fun with the players. :)
Glad you liked it
and you're right, it's a classic red herring, so added to the codex as suggested
It's got to do something important, we can't read it, it radiates magic and beeps...
Add in a touch of trickery and watch the paranoia bloom.
LOL Funny and the PCs would be bemused by it.
hehehe, a classic red herring.
'Its important, i'm tellin' you! I just havent figured out why or how, but damn it! Its important! Look! It just beeped, for chrissakes!'
I will remember this and use it once. I will only change the sound, "beep" is a little too modern for me.
Well the tone of a bell or chime works.
Actually I would keep the beep simply because it "trigger" something in the modern player's minds. They will think this is an item of technology that has somehow found its way to the world (or high tech from an earlier age). They will confidently work with it, thinking that their modern minds will be able to figure out what it is for.
"It is a universal remote in a cool synthetic material that looks like granite, but what is it for?"
Funny! Same kind of situation as with those locked, unbreakable, fake doors attached onto walls...
Even funnier, GMs might put something actually controlled with it might in the most absurd place, many adventures after, where the PCs would never expect it!
Endless fun, especially in a steam punk setting. I can imagine a huckster selling this as a device that grants bodily control over goblins or some such. (Especially if he has a trained goblin or halfling dressed as a goblin to help with the ruse.)
Oh, neat! I'm going to have to put this in my campaign and give it to the players!
Nice one.....wish I'd thought of it year ago.
Evil. Simple. Good.