Full Item Description
The Torc of the Sphinx is an old and weathered piece of jewelry. Made primarily of gold, it is a traditional style torc. The centerpiece of the torc is a stylized disc that has a leonine face that resembles both the Sphinx and the elder Calcobrinan God of the Sun. There are two stones set in the eye sockets of the leonine face. The left eye is a star ruby of exceptional quality, and the right eye is what at first appears to be a piece of amethyst, but is in truth tanzanite.
Forged during the 2nd Dynasty of the Baladorian Kings; long before Xanadu rose over the broken ruins of that fair city, the King had a fascination with riddles. To this end, King Szecher the Augerer supported many competitions of riddles and puzzles of logic. This could be word games, tricks of numbers and shapes, and even deciphering traps and puzzles that could and often were detrimental to the life of the person solving it.
In an attempt to curry favor, the High Priest of the Temple of Nigmas, god of illumination and truth, created this torc. In the land of 1,000 Gods, any advantage was worth attempting, and the Temple spared no expense in the making of the torc. The best craftsmen were commisioned to craft the material aspect, while both arcane enchanters and divine summoners worked together to create the magic for the item.
A band of clerics and templar quested into the Djaraha Wastes to find the lair of a spinx, and after a terrible battle the beast was slain. A Pnuemomancer drew the soul of the beast into a containing vessel and after much alteration, worked with the other magi to bind the spirit of the sphinx into the torc.
The Torc was presented with great pomp and circumstance to Szecher and the King took it and donned it. It was as if he had been living in darkness and suddenly the sun had risen, for the King could now comprehend the workings of the greatness of the universe. A terrible light burned in his eyes and the priests all bowed low before him, hoping to curry his favor and bring Nigmas to great glory before the host of other pretender gods.
A sphinx is a wise and mighty beast, one not well suited for being moliated into a piece for a magical enchantment. The spirit defied the will of the pnuemomancer and decieved him into thinking it complacent. Instead like a bizarre tesseract or another 4 dimensional object, the spirit of the pshinx folded into itself and was made to seem obedient.
The power of the Torc is a +10 adjustment to ability rolls pertaining to riddles, puzzles, koans, and other such navel pondering matters. While this doesn't prevent the wearer from failing a challenge, it makes it very challenging if nearly impossible to confound the wearer. Th sense of erudition and enlightment that come from wearing the torc generally makes it addictive. This is the first curse, as the wearer is endlessly fascinated with any sort of puzzle.
The second power manifests more slowly. The longer the torc is worn, the more unworthy and base other people become. The only way they can be respected, or even trusted is by answered riddles posed by the wearer. At first this is an amuzing game, but as the paranoia increases, the riddles become harder and more and more common. Eventually, after (10 days plus the wearer's wisdom score in days) the wearer can only speak in riddles and questions, answering questions with other questions.
The third and darkest power is that of the failed riddle. The wearer, now likely completely under the thrall of the torc must answer any riddle presented to her or him. While most of the time the riddles can be easily answered, failing riddles actually causes the wearer agony and pain. Once the torc has been worn for (Wisdom score times 2 for days) failing a riddle invokes a self destructive urge. for failing a riddle the wearer is compelled to commit suicide, often in a grotesque and violent way.
Snared - The potent arch-mage who is a great boon to the kingdom and potentially a benefactor to the PCs has come under the influence of the torc. Now instead of working to protect the kingdom from the villianous advances of other magical powers he has lost himself in books of riddles and conundrums. The PCs must find a way to take a necklace off of a powerful and increasingly deranged mage.
The Last Answer - The PCs need to find information regarding an ancient ruin in the desert. The only problem is that all of the clues they have are in riddles and songlines that are no longer relevant, their meanings and nuances obliterated by time. (IE references to a city by a lake, though the lake dried up and the city was lost to the sands and no one remembers it...at all) The Sphinx is mentioned, along with its destruction and creation into the Torc. Conceivably the PCs could find the torc and attempt to communicate with the mutilated spirit of the sphinx, or take their chances and don the Torc to seek the answers of the dead riddles.
The Cult - A madman has gained possession of the Torc and has donned it. Rather than the usual spiral into destruction that befalls most wearers, the lunatic has been accepted in the region as a prophet. dozens follow him around, some laying palm fronds for him to walk on, others pouring wine, and still others following him to record his stream of koans, odd questions and answers that are still seeking their question. The PCs have been tasked with disbanding this cult as it is an affront to the local church and nobility.
Number 2 of the Fantasy Zodiac Items.
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? Responses (7)-7
5/5 and an HOH-serves the wearer right for trying to enslave the soul of a Sphinx.
This is an excellent item! Only feedback would be to remove the D20 references - the specific + and Wisdom score.
Am looking forward to the rest of this series!
Oh, and Xanadu made me think of Abba! :)
Nicely done all around. Has some interesting points and good dramatic hoolks.
I would actually change the freetext from Zodiac to your specific zodic.
Again how would this be used by the PC? Solving a riddle or puzzle via a role is no fun. I suppose you could have some weird riddling NPC or as you suggested some King cursed by this, but those wouldn't require an item this indepth.
I am very curious as to how you intend to incorporate this item into game play.
Added plot hooks
I like trying to draw these kind of curses out for an arbitrary amount of time so that nobody is quite sure the real reason for the craziness. It could be perfectly reasonable that nobody had a clue that it was the torc that drove the king insane and so it was passed on to the heir and they had a repeat performance in crazy. In that case I would delay it awhile to again, make it possible that it was hereditary or something.
This is a good opportunity to use and abuse the net book of riddles too. Everybody loves a fun riddle, especially if you can tie it into your game.
Not all things are meant to fall into the PC's hands - and if so, they should beware the consequences. Was fine without the plot hooks, is even better with them.