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D&D 3E
DM in Distress 
7th-Oct-2008 11:29 am
Disney-Cat BadHair

Last month, I started up the Key of Destiny campaign again, picking up at the beginning of the Specter of Sorrows (second module). One quasi-issue that I have with the module is that it involves the use of a *LOT* of artifacts. So far, the PCs have only kept 5 of them (the rest being evil), 1 has very little use outside of plot purposes and 2 actually count as a pair, so that leaves 3 usable "artifacts", but still, that's a lot to me. The PCs are only 7th level! Anyway, I've accepted it as a high powered campaign and taken the idea that the PCs are heroes to heart. I say all this because I am trying to interpret one of the artifact descriptions and I want your opinion on how to best use the artifact - I'm NOT looking for reasons why having artifacts is a horrible idea or for reasons why this artifact is overpowered. So anyway…


Artifacts: Tears of Mishakal. The PCs have gained the pure tear and the corrupt one. The next goal in their adventure is to purify the corrupt one. This is what the book says about the Tears of Mishakal (leaving out all the background fluff in favor of your time).



Much like the fabled Blue Crystal Staff, the Tears of Mishakal are artifacts of healing and restoration. Each Tear holds 20 charges when it is fully charged. Each regains charges at a rate of 1 charge per day at daybreak. Their powers may be used only by a non-evil character (the "bearer"). Evil characters who hold or attempt to use one of the uncorrupted Tears gain two negative levels. These negative levels remain as long as the Tear is being held (though not if stowed away) and disappear when the Tear is no longer held. These negative levels never result in actual level loss, but they cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the Tear is held.


When used, the Tears glow with a soft blue radiance equivalent to a light spell. Their major powers are described below.


The following powers expend 1 charge:


cure light wounds



The following powers expend 2 charges:

calm emotions

cure moderate wounds

restoration, lesser


The following powers expend 4 charges:

cure serious wounds

remove blindness/deafness

remove disease


The following powers expend 6 charges:

cure critical wounds

neutralize poison



The following powers expend 8 charges:

cure light wounds, mass

death ward

dispel evil


The following powers expend 10 charges and may only be used if both Tears of Mishakal are carried:


heroes' feast

raise dead


In addition to spells, a Tear of Mishakal possesses three other significant powers. If immersed for 24 hours in a vessel containing no more than a gallon of water, the Tear transforms the water into holy water just as if a bless water spell had been cast upon it.


Secondly, for as long as the bearer has one of the Tears of Mishakal on his or her person (whether held or stowed) and the Tear still has charges remaining, the bearer benefits from a continuous shield of faith spell (caster level 15th, or a +4 defelction bonus). If the bearer possesses both uncorrupted Tears, the caster level increases to 20th and the deflection bonus likewise increases to +5.


Finally, the Tears of Mishakal bestow a continuous dimensional anchor effect upon the bearer. So long as the Tear is on the bearer's person, she cannot be affected by spells such as blink, dimension door, plane shift, teleport or similar effects that allow extradimensional travel. This effect functions at either 15th or 20th caster level (depending on whether the bearer has one or both Tears). Even if overcome by spell resistance or some other means, the Tear itself cannot be transported in this fashion and is left behind or dropped. The only exception is if the tears are carried through the portal to the Dragons' Graveyard, to which they are attuned.


The goddess Mishakal has been known to act directly through the Tears, allowing them to demonstrate powers and abilities ouside the scope of their typical use. Such instances occur at your discretion and at specific points in the adventure.


Strong (all schools); CL 15th or 20th.


Okay, here are my questions:



1. How does the Tear get activated? I was thinking that it reminded me of the Staff of the Magi and so I figured that it would be used like a staff and could either be used by a divine spellcaster or by someone else with a use magic device roll. What are your thoughts on this?


2. The description implies that each Tear can be used separately, so that you basically have 2 separate artifacts, and that really bothers me. I want to combine them so that only one party member can hold them and use them. Perhaps the one they have now (and are using) is the primary one and the one they will purify simply helps by adding to the CL and allows for the 10-charge powers? What do you guys think?


3. In the description of the 2nd passive power, it explicitly says that the Tear offers a deflection bonus when on the bearer's person, either carried OR stored. Then in the description of the 3rd passive power, it says it acts as a continuous dimensional anchor when on the bearer's person. Would that imply that it, too, means when either carried or stored? I'm inclined to say so, because it even says that the Tear can never be teleported and that would include when in a person's backpack. Do you read that the same way?


4. In the description of the corrupted Tear (which I won't include), it lists the power to summon a greater shadow which stays until dismissed. That great shadow is present when they find the corrupted tear and must be defeated, at which time it returns into the Tear. Due to the fact that my party is very large and overpowered, I beefed up that battle to include 2 greater shadows, then the 2 darknight commanders, then a bone devil as the Tear's summon, and then Bone Devil immediately summoned another Bone Devil and a bunch of Lemurs. It was a great battle and at the end, the last Bone Devil disappeared - though the PCs have no idea that it went inside the corrupted tear.


So, my question is this. How would you use this fact to help complicate matters for the PCs? One obvious answer is to have the Bone Devil return repeatedly to attack them, but are there other, sneakier schemes? When they purify the tear, perhaps the Bone Devil is replaced by an angel that has his own ideas about what the PCs should be doing, forcing them to appease an arrogant intelligent item before they are allowed to use the gem's powers? How do you see this possibly working out? I'm looking for ways that these Tears might be as much of a burden and responsibility as they are a boon. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

7th-Oct-2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
1. Early 3e stuff didn't list command types, though baring any other details, using each charge is a Standard action. I'd probably make it a command activated item--the character speaks a command word or offers a prayer or whatever. I think treating it as a spell-trigger item (like a staff) is perfectly reasonable, fits with the type of abilities offered, and works just fine even though it's an artifact (it may be an artifact, but it is still a spell-trigger item).

2. Sounds fine by me. They're artifacts. You can do whatever you want with them. Limiting otherwise free magic items is perfectly reasonable :p

3. Yeah, "on the bearer's person" should also include in a backpack or whatever.

4. You're running modules? Do they have any suggestions about how to complicate things, or what the plot function of these artifacts are?

I might have the devil leave the tear during the night and go try and lay plans to get in the PCs way. So maybe they wake up and find that their backpack has been moved (cause the devil moved it to get back in the tear), but nothing is missing. Now you have a bit of a red herring about maybe the local thieves guild being after them. And then once the PCs have fallen into the Devil's trap (maybe they're being attacked by a blackguard-type who wants the devil's power for himself), the devil joins in with a reveal that "oh my god, it was him all along!"
7th-Oct-2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
1) If no activation method is suggested either in the magic item description or by the nature of the item, assume that a command word is needed to activate it. Command word activation means that a character speaks the word and the item activates. No other special knowledge is needed. [From D20 SRD]

So it is probably a command word and can be used by any character, though if you would like to keep that in the domain of the cleric and make it so only a divine caster can use it, that sounds reasonable, too.

2) Again, sounds reasonable. You could probably hint at this by making one tear somewhat larger or more perfect in appearance than the other.

3) Yes, this should protect them when carried by them, including in backpacks.

4) You could combine plots. If the Devil is killed, does it disappear forever, or does it simply return to the Tear? If it returns to the Tear, it can come out again later, so it doesn't matter if they know its there or not; they won't have any way of preventing it from appearing again.

Perhaps it tries to attack them at night, and when they fight it off, it realizes that it can't defeat them on its own, and starts leaving at night to arrange their deaths, either with an assassin's guild or by rallying nearby monsters, or perhaps stealing and hiding items they may have or need.

Even if the Devil never attacks them after that first night, it's still a big problem because they have to work against it and try to keep it in line, which forces them to pretty much babysit the corrupt tear 24/7.
7th-Oct-2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
As these are related to the Goddess and she is known to work through them, I would require the player to request her help/boon by name
"Oh Mishakal, please raise this poor soul from the dead so we may continue in our good works."

You could leave the Corrupted tear without power.

I am liking the Bone devil ideas set forth so far. (especially if they have no way to know it is IN the tear.)

You could also place non-combat side encounters in that suggest the use of it's powers, so the charges don't get to built up.

8th-Oct-2008 01:58 am (UTC)
1. How does the Tear get activated?
I would use a command word/prayer, but I also like the idea of limiting use to a divine spellcaster or someone with use magic device skill.

2. Personally, I would set up something post-cleansing such as a temple of Mishakel complete with a bunch of injured orphans making it obvious the PCs should donate one of the tears. Halving their efficacy when they're apart could be fun, too-- especially if PCs didn't know that until after they made their generous donation...

3. I would say yes, both powers work whether the item is carried or stored on the PC.

4. How would you use this fact to help complicate matters for the PCs?

Once it gets out that the PCs have an item capable of summoning such monsters, every BBEG (big, bad evil guy) should be out to take it for him or herself! Heck, monsters would love to have other powerful monsters under their control!

If PCs have to keep re-fighting these critters, they're going to be noticed. Who wants to rent an inn room to those people when demon-nemesis may show up any time to tear apart the inn? If they have other arch-enemies, their enemies could wait until an impending attack and take advantage in the old 'enemy of my enemy' tradition. Even after the PCs purify this thing, their reputation may proceed them and they won't be able to get an inn room for years to come-- especially if a popular bard spread their tale...

I like the idea of heavenly hordes post-purification. No one ever said LG was easy... and imagine all the trouble of such goody-goodies hanging around, curbing language, urging the PCs to help everyone in need-- pro bono, of course! Then again, once it's learned they have an item capable of summoning an angel, lots of people are going to want it. Even good guys may be willing to take such an item by force "for the greater good"-- say, high priests of Mishakel who feel the item would be best protected in their hands, helping more people, or desperate people who need healing. Just think of all the lepers and blind and injured who might flock to the PCs, hindering their every movement!

Also, since the item recharges one charge at dawn, I would put in the stipulation that the tear must "see" the dawn and wouldn't recharge underground or in darkness. This would limit the items use and force the PCs to be seen with it more often; they can't just hide it all the time until they need it.
8th-Oct-2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I really like the idea of needing to see the dawn to be recharged.

As far as being seen with the gem, I don't think they have to worry about that - one of our fighters is carrying Huma's Legendary Dragonlance (yeah, THAT one), so having people recognize the gem is the least of their worries. However, they do have a nemesis that I've been keeping under wraps - a lich that they freed way back when. My worry is that my group is SO passionate about killing stuff and they are so powerful that anything I do to make it harder to RP (like having inns refuse them) will only make them kill stuff more often, which I don't want. I guess that's why I was leaning towards a holy angel encounter - I am looking for encounters that they can't complete with violence.
8th-Oct-2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
Hm. I'd be inclined to give the inn-thing a try then, just to see how they'd deal with it. If they're used to fixing every problem with a hammer, maybe this would be good diversification for them. If they do wind up killing an innkeeper... well, dealing with the consequenses could be educational. Of course, I'm not in favor of ruining their hackmaster-style fun; if you try such an RP scenario and it doesn't work out you can always dump it.

It sounds as if these artifacts are going to make nice two-edged swords for them. Good luck!
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