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:
cure moderate wounds
The following powers expend 4 charges:
cure serious wounds
The following powers expend 6 charges:
cure critical wounds
The following powers expend 8 charges:
cure light wounds, mass
The following powers expend 10 charges and may only be used if both Tears of Mishakal are carried:
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.