Friday, September 17, 2010

Eye of Ilgerish

The following is Open Game Content according to the Open Game License.

The kids found this one in the same wizard's laboratory where they found Fibon's Skull and Nephrym's Claw. Okay, okay, so magic treasures were a tad abundant that day. Maybe I was feeling generous. The dangers of that dungeon offered commensurate risk, though, and none of the artifacts can be used without a price. The Eye of Ilgerish is no exception.

The Eye is literally an over-sized, bloodshot eyeball with a red cornea. It's actually about the size of a baseball. Despite its rigid appearance, it's not hard like marble, but it's not exactly squishy either. Whoever Ilgerish was, she was made of tougher stuff than the flesh of mere mortals. The eye is rather slippery, and must be handled with care to avoid dropping it. The reason it's slippery is that the eye must be kept in a saline solution, else it becomes agitated and ineffective. Agitating the Eye is a bad idea, as we shall see.

The sclera (the white part) goes all the way around, and there's a hole in the back that you can look through. Using the Eye in this way is like using a Gem of Seeing. Now, I know what you're probably thinking: the Gem of Seeing is considered a major wondrous item and has no business in the hands of low level characters. I agree, which is why I've limited its power and made consequences for its use.

In terms of limits, the big one is time. The Gem of Seeing can be used in 5 minute increments for up to 30 minutes per day. The Eye of Ilgerish , by contrast, can only be used as long as the player using it can keep her own eyes open without blinking, and that only three times per day. The GM times the player with a stopwatch and divides the number of seconds by 6 to arrive at the maximum number of rounds the Eye can be used in that instance. Beyond that number of rounds, the Eye's magical effects become somewhat distorted and unreliable. Double that duration and the user can't see anything at all through it. Additionally, even before the normal duration passes, the range conveyed upon a mortal user of the Eye is only 60', as compared to the 120' conveyed by a true Gem of Seeing. Finally, the eye is so slippery that it must be handled with two hands. To use it one-handed, the character must succeed on a DC 20 sleight of hand skill check. Using the Eye is a standard action.

Now, on to the consequences! First, a little background. Ilgerish is a powerful demonic being of the Abyss who once ran amok in the characters' world's distant past. When her earthly manifestation was destroyed, some of her physical parts remained behind to wreak havoc among mortals. The Eye is one such part. In her native form (still alive and well in the Abyss), Ilgerish still has all of her eyes, and one of them is the analog for the Eye in the characters' possession. Ilgerish spends most of her time (99%) in a deep sleep, weaving nightmares where dwell in perpetual terror the souls of those who were foolish enough to worship her in life. When she wakes, she searches for means to escape her prison and return to the world of men and women where she can find new souls on which to feed.

The connection between her Eye of the physical world and her abyssal eye is the key to understanding the risks associated with using this device. If the characters attempt to use the Eye when Ilgerish happens to be awake (1% chance), they will see whatever she is seeing from her lair in the Abyss. Such sights are sufficient to drive mortals mad, and a Will save (DC 20) is required to stave off fear lasting 2d4 rounds, followed by confusion lasting a number of hours equal to 20 minus the adjusted Will save roll attempt (e.g., you have Will +4, roll a 13, so fail your save and you're confused for three hours). In the case of a failed save, holding onto the Eye is impossible, and the Eye is dropped. The Eye won't break, but this has implications for anyone foolish enough to pick it back up now that Ilgerish is awake.

If the Eye has been dropped, Ilgerish is now not only awake, but also alert to those around the Eye. She will attempt Dominate Person on anyone who picks up the Eye within an hour of it being dropped (after that, the connection has faded and she's asleep again). The DC for the Will save to resist domination is 22 (treating Ilgerish as 20th level sorcerer with 25 charisma). The dominated person will be instructed by Ilgerish to make his or her way to a place where a proper summons can be performed to release the demon back into the world. She is patient, though, so if it looks like the victim can't complete the task right away, Ilgerish will attempt to achieve the same end by use of Geas-Quest. All this can be avoided if the Eye does not come in contact with the skin, and as long as the handler does not look into the eye (either side).

Irritating the eye by using it past its duration (discussed above) increases the chance of awakening the demon to 10% at first, and up to 50% if double the duration.

Need I mention that mentioning Ilgerish's name in the Eye's presence is a terrible idea?

Now, all this being said, I haven't actually been playing the Eye of Ilgerish this way in the homeschool campaign. Basically it's just been a slippery Gem of Seeing that has to be kept in saline or it stops working. No check for awakenings and all the weirdness that follows. I don't want to give them any nightmares. The girls have, however, clued in to the fact that it's more than just a device, that it's somebody's eye (I didn't have to say a thing: it's an eye, and that's enough to arouse their suspicion. Their instincts in this regard have been pretty good), so they've only used it sparsely. As the kids get older, I can bring some of the more interesting dimensions of this magic device to bear on our game. In the meantime, we've been using it as a means to quasi-explain the alternate reality the kids' characters find themselves in when my oldest daughter GMs. We know that the Eye has something to do with the alternate game, but we don't know exactly how that works.

Perhaps it is not for mere mortals to understand such things!

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