The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘gilted fiends’

This may only be interesting to me, but somebody pointed me in the direction of a story on Reddit featuring one of my gilted fiends.

The title? Holy crap! Did I just let them resurrect an ancient dead elven king?

I think this may have particularly resonated with me because it coincidentally resembles an encounter I wrote for The Fifth Sepulcher. (Which I’ve realized I penned for Fantasy Flight Games more than a decade ago now. Ouch. Right in the age.) That encounter originally read:

Two sets of golden double doors face each other in this red-carpeted chamber. Six golden thrones — in two rows of three — face each other, and six figures sit upon the thrones.

These are six of the Seven Daughters of Lynmoor. The seventh, of course, is Queen Elisabet — who was interred in area 13. Each of the Daughters is under the effect of a permanent gentle repose and magic circle against evil enchantments (cast at 20th level). These spells have kept their bodies perfectly preserved, and protected them from the effects of the Necromancer’s Stone.

Note that the Daughters were prepared in this manner against the prophecy that they would rise again to save Lynmoor in her darkest hour. If the PCs take the proper actions (casting raise dead, for example) this could be that hour. (The Daughters are 8th to 12th level sorcerers.) However, if the enchantments are disrupted without returning the Daughters to life (through the use of a dispel magic spell, for example), the Stone will immediately transform the Daughters into liches.

If I recall correctly, when Alan D. Kohler reviewed the module he was not a fan of the fact that there was no particular compulsion forcing the PCs to raise the daughters. He also felt there was no way for the PCs to be aware of the prophecy or the magic preserving the daughters. The former is really just a Knowledge (history) check, of course, and the latter would seem to be a natural consequence of the PCs showing any interest at all in six perfectly preserved corpses in a dungeon and performing the logical investigations.

But I digress.

Unfortunately, if JCY2K ever posted a follow-up to let people know what happened at his next session, I haven’t found it. Still, it’s nice to know that I’ve been a major force for resurrecting long-dead royalty for more than a decade.

Jacques de Gheyn - Vanitas Still Life (1603)“Gilted Fiends”, like “101 Curious Items”, was originally submitted to Dragon Magazine. It went through several revision passes: First, the editors cut the coin of fate, coins of the damned, Aethope’s coins, the thief’s coin, coins of the dead, and the gilted fiend. They asked me to revise the rest and re-submit. (I’m no longer certain of the rationale; I think partly to make for a smaller word count, partly to eliminate the “artifact-like” objects, and partly to “tighten the focus” of the piece.)

When I re-submitted the article, the editors were unhappy because the coins did not rigidly follow the guidelines for pricing magic items in the DMG. In my opinion, the guidelines were pricing most of the coins as being way too expensive/valuable and they were, after all, meant to be guidelines not a straitjacket.

So I ran the coins through the DMG guidelines and re-submitted… which resulted in the coins being too expensive for their utility and the article was rejected.

I promptly restored the coins that had been cut and sold it pretty much instantly to the now-defunct Campaign Magazine.

A few years later, WotC released the Magic Item Compendium and basically said, “We’ve repriced a bunch of items by ignoring the guidelines when the guidelines were making items too expensive.” I felt vindicated.

However, the revised prices survived the transition to Campaign Magazine.  (The principle of “guideline = rule!” was memetically viral at the time… and remains so today. I’m actually including a big “guidelines are not rules” disclaimer in Legends & Labyrinths for this very reason.) Those revised prices are also the prices which appear here because I’m generally following the principle of not revising this reprint material as I archive it on the Alexandrian. But you really would be better off ignoring them.

Finally, here’s a list of “ideas for coins” that I brain-stormed for the article but never actually developed:

  • reverse gravity
  • able to breathe only water
  • mask which allows one to speak with animals
  • exchanges gold coins for copper coins as you walk by people
  • need a pun on gilt/”guilt”
  • coin purse coin — randomly absorbs other coins like bag of holding
  • some (all?) are bags of devouring
  • jade coin from lost empire that transforms other coins to match itself (lost dimension?)

(No, I have no idea why I included the idea for a mask in the middle of this list.)

Gilted Fiends – Part 6

July 16th, 2011

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Jacques de Gheyn - Vanitas Still Life (1603)BLOOD MONEY

Blood money exacts a terrible price upon those who carry it: If someone should die while in possession of blood money their soul will automatically be imprisoned within the coin as per the soul bind spell – preventing them from being returned to life via a clone, raise dead, reincarnation, resurrection, true resurrection, or even a miracle or wish. Only by destroying the coin or dispelling the magic upon it can one free the soul (which is still dead, but can now be returned to life normally).

Evil spellcasters have been known to trick adventurers by hiring them on legitimately worthy missions, and then giving blood money as a reward. The adventurers will subsequently be ambushed by their minions (with the goal of killing as many as possible and escaping with the blood money which now contains their soul) – thus keeping the spellcaster safe, while gaining them souls upon which to practice their foul arts.

Similar tricks have been used to ensure the near-permanent destruction of enemies or to extort ransoms from the rich and powerful (for example, by using blood money to entrap the soul of a merchant’s daughter).

Caster Level: 17th
Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, soul bind
Market Price: 600,000 gp

 

THE GILTED FIEND

During the great bulk of the day, a gilted fiend will appear as a perfectly normal gold piece. At the stroke of midnight, however, the coin will transform into a small, golden creature with an impish tendency towards practical jokes, tricks, and surprises. This transformation will last for 1d6 x 10 minutes.

When the gilted fiend first appears it will have a friendly, if somewhat mischievous, effect. Its owner (or owners) might find their boots mended in the morning, for example – or perhaps awaken to find breakfast already cooked. As time passes, however, the gilted fiend’s behavior will slowly change until, finally, it will truly live up to its name. Instead of finding items repaired, its owners will find items broken or missing. They may awake in the morning to find their bodies riddled with strange injuries they didn’t have before falling asleep. Finally the gilted fiend will turn murderous – its owner usually turning up slain by their own weapon in an apparent suicide.

While in its transformed state, the gilted fiend will do its best to avoid detection. If it is detected, it will still attempt to disguise its nature by doing everything possible to prevent people from seeing the actual moment of transformation.

If it becomes important, the gilted fiend can be considered to possess the same stats as an imp during its period of transformation (see pg. 48 of the MM). While in coin form, it will be indistinguishable from a normal coin (except through the use of spells such as detect magic) and can be destroyed through perfectly normal means (by melting it down, for example). Any damage done to the gilted fiend while in its transformed state will have automatically healed by the next night.

Caster Level: 15th
Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, polymorph any object
Market Price: 250,000 gp

Reflections on “Gilted Fiends”

Gilted Fiends – Part 5

July 15th, 2011

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Jacques de Gheyn - Vanitas Still Life (1603)THE SHOPKEEPER’S CHANGE

These devilishly clever items were created by a merchant guild which was, shortly thereafter, run out of business. The shopkeeper’s change appears like a normal coin (usually a copper or silver piece). So long as someone has the coin on their person, however, they must make a save vs. will or accept whatever deal is suggested to them.

The coins got their name because shopkeepers would give the coin to their customers, and then suggest things like, “Why don’t you pick up this nice ball of twine, too?” until the coin was returned to them – at which point the coin would go back into storage.

Victims of the coin will not think anything amiss with their unusual compliance, unless the suggestions are so outrageous that – in hindsight – they are obviously questionable (for example, paying 500 gp for that ball of twine). (The DM may use their best judgment or call for a second save vs. will in these situations.)

Caster Level: 5th
Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, charm person or command
Market Price: 5,000 gp

 

COINS OF THE DEAD

They were created in three pairs by Nathanuel, the Sixth Dark Mage of Ashantal, and dipped beneath the waves of the Lethe, before being delivered to the three daughters of King Kalduran of Anderoc as spite for their spurns. And for one hundred years, the three daughters slept, until the White Knights of Senzeral ventured into the Black Abyss and retrieved Nathanuel’s oblivion…” – The Books of Anderoc

The coins of the dead are three matched sets of coins – one golden, one silver, and one copper – which were created as a curse to those who receive them as gifts (or otherwise). If someone falls asleep with either coin from a set on their person, they must make a save vs. will roll or slip into a coma-like slumber from which they will awaken only when both coins have been placed upon their eyes. While under the effects of the coin, the victim will be helpless (DMG, pg. 84) and will not age or respond to any physical stimulus.

Although the coins have often been brought together over the course of history (for obvious reasons), it is also quite common for them to become separated again – frequently creating situations in which men of great power have been forced to scour the globe for the matching coin necessary to save those closest to them.

A wish spell may also be used to break the enchantment, but only if the caster is of 20th level or higher.

Caster Level: 20th
Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, sleep, permanency, wish
Market Price: 350,000 gp per coin

Continued tomorrow…

Gilted Fiends – Part 4

July 14th, 2011

Go to Part 1

Jacques de Gheyn - Vanitas Still Life (1603)UNHOLY WEALTH

Long ago a mighty civilization flourished deep within the bowels of the earth, accomplishing great deeds and carving for itself a place of greatness. Now, though, this forgotten empire is long lost to the mists of history – leaving behind only the strange golden coins which adventurers have come to know as unholy wealth.

These coins project an invisible unholy aura around their carriers (the unholy aura can, therefore, be detected with spells such see invisibility and true seeing). Creatures so warded in this manner receive a +4 deflection bonus to AC, a +4 resistance to saves, and an SR 25 against good spells and spells cast by good creatures. The aura will also block possession and mental influence. If a good creature succeeds at a melee attack against the carrier of unholy wealth, the offending attacker takes 1d6 point of temporary Strength damage (Fortitude save negates).

Divine spellcasters of good or neutral alignment will find their access to their spells blocked so long as they carry the unholy wealth (knowingly or otherwise). Good-aligned characters who knowingly use unholy wealth to their own advantage should be considered to be acting against their alignment.

Caster Level: 15th
Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, unholy aura
Market Price: 240,000 gp

 

THE THIEF’S COIN
(Artifact)

The thief’s coin has been inhabited for more than a century by the entrapped spirit of the master thief Shadowraven, who had the misfortune of getting caught on the premises of a tower belonging to the wizard Azbahkeroth. To punish the thief, Azbahkeroth imprisoned his soul for all eternity within one of the gold coins he craved so much.

Shadowraven had his revenge, however. Although robbed of sentience, the avarice of his soul – focused through the properties of the coin – began to attract stolen goods and money to its owner. Within a few months Azbahkeroth found himself, unwittingly, surrounded by a wide array of stolen goods – and no good explanation of how he had come into possession of them. During the liquidation of his property which followed his arrest, the thief’s coin disappeared.

Anyone who comes into possession of the thief’s coin suffers the risk of falling to a fate similar to Azbahkeroth. Whenever they come into possession of something new (whether taking treasure from a monster, buying supplies at a store, or receiving change from a shopkeeper) there is a 10% chance that it was recently stolen. If it was stolen, then there is a 50% chance that the item in question is identifiable. Whether or not its true owners will come looking for it is left up to the discretion of the DM.

Caster Level: 12th

Continued tomorrow…

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