Monday, February 23, 2015

Magic Item: The Shewstone of John Dee

This shewstone, also known as a crystal ball, was once owned by the famous occultist John Dee. It appears to be a perfect sphere of clear, polished crystal, and in the center of the crystal is presumably a fragment of curved stone, brown and rough in texture, resembling the carapace of a great spider. The shewstone is always cold to the touch. It was with this stone that Dee and his scryer Edward Kelly famously made contact with celestial entities and received messages from beyond this world.

The shewstone is essential useless without a copy of Dee’s grimoire entitled “A Treatise on the First Language of God-Christ,” which serves as a dictionary and guide to the grammar of the Enochian language, the tongue spoken by the celestials. Copies of this grimoire are excessively rare but may be purchased from shady book dealers, or found in the libraries of wealthy magic-users or collectors of the unusual. Magic-Users with an Intelligence score of 15 or more can make a Language skill check to already be fluent in Enochian.

To use the shewstone scryer must stare intently into the stone and make a saving throw against Magic Devices. If this saving throw is a failure, the scryer will experience nothing, but if it is a success the scryer will enter a trance and receive a message from the extra-dimensional entities. A second party must be present to record the Enochian words uttered by the scryer has he will have no memory of the message upon leaving the trance. The meaning of the utterances must then be translated from Enochian into an understood language.

The nature of the message is dictated by the scryer making saving throws against Magic Devices. These saving throws must be made by the Referee in secret. Each word requires a separate saving throw against Magic Devices and the number of words received is limited to the scryer’s level + Wisdom modifier. The scryer must state how many words they wish to receive before using the shewstone.

A successful saving throw will provide the scryer with a single useful word related to their current situation. This word can a simple clue or nudge towards treasure or survival. A failed save will result in a random word or a deliberately deceitful word that will put the party in danger or contradict the most reasonable course of action. Rolling a 1 on the saving throw will result in the permanent loss of 2d4 points from the scryer’s Intelligence score.

It should be noted that using the shewstone does not result in a conversation between the scryer and the extra-dimensional entities and so asking the shewstone a specific question will unlikely result in a direct answer, even if the resulting message is somehow helpful. In truth, the scryer is simply overhearing the whispers of these entities as they reverberate through the universe. Using the shewstone multiple times will bring the scryer to the attention of these entities, who can be exceedingly wrathful against any violation of natural order.

If the scryer could remember anything of their celestial vision, it would look a bit like this.
It is vital that all saving throws regarding the shewstone be rolled in secret by the Referee. The resulting words, helpful or not, should be given to the players in random order only after the scrying session is over.

Below is a table of words that can used when selecting random results for failed saving throws. It may also be in the best interest of any Referee to also consult this table for any helpful words in case one of the players should also have a copy of this book.

00-01 Division
02-03 Burn
04-05 Morningstar
06-07 Beauty
08-09 Darkness
10-11 Hellfire
12-13 Banish
14-15 Choke
16-17 Candle
18-19 Venus
20-21 Triumphant
22-23 Paradise
24-25 Transform
26-27 Harlot
28-29 Beast
30-31 Kingdom
32-33 Death
34-35 Attack
36-37 Earth
38-39 Daughter
40-41 Deception
42-43 Light
44-45 Diamond
46-47 Worm
48-49 Guardian
50-51 Obedience
52-53 Silence
54-55 Face
56-57 Air
58-59 Fire
60-61 Mountain
62-63 Ocean
64-65 Skull
66-67 Magus
68-69 Mars
70-71 Gathering
72-73 Judgement
74-75 Sword
76-77 Mercury
78-79 Conqueror
80-81 Aether
82-83 Torch
84-85 Lucifer
86-87 Millstone
88-89 Water
90-91 Babylon
92-93 Remember
94-95 Voice
97-97 Sleep
98-99 Wings