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The Anvil of Screams

by Beau Yarbrough

This terrifying object was created by Shadow Elf followers of Atzanteotl in the hidden city of Aengmor/Oenkmar. Atzanteotl knew that the future of the city belonged to the goblinoid races in the lands above, and instructed his priest, Xicohtencatl, to kidnap and sacrifice the greatest living dwarven smith of the day. This dwarf, one Reden by name, was placed into an obsidian coffin with his tools in his hands and molten steel was poured over him while he screamed horribly. The steel filled the coffin, which was then shaped into a long black altar covered in magical runes to bind Reden's skill to the anvil and decorated around the sides with bas-reliefs depicting humanoids and shadow elves conquering the world above, putting the surface dwellers to the sword and eventually shattering the sun with a blow from a weapon forged on the anvil.

The anvil is five feet long, three feet wide, three feet high and weighs 600 pounds. It does not rust, and is immune to all transmutation and fire-based magics. Any attempts to use these spells on the anvil require the caster to make an endurance saving throw or have them turned against him.

Weapons and armour forged on the anvil can only be broken upon the anvil, although both forging and creating weapons on the anvil is a risky business. For every month that the altar has not been used in a blood sacrifice (intelligent beings only), apply a cumulative -1 to either weaponsmithing checks (if attempting to create a weapon) or simple rolls to hit (if attempting to break a weapon). A roll of a one (or worse, after adjustment) means that the person attempting to use the anvil actually injures themselves, doing 1d8 points of damage for every point below 2 rolled. The damage manifests as a cold fire erupting from the anvil, draining the life force of the person attempting to use the anvil.

Successful use of the anvil consecrates the weapons or armour forged to Atzanteotl, and they display all bonuses beyond +1 only when used against his enemies, especially demihumans and surface dwellers. Enchantments designed to harm his enemy are automatically successful.

Reden's angry spirit is still bound into the altar, and when in complete darkness, the anvil appears to those using darkvision to be a transparent coffin with the skeleton of a dwarf inside. Whenever in complete darkness with the anvil, all those present must make a series of willpower saving throws. Failing the first causes the victim to be struck with fear, as though cast by an 11th level wizard. Those struck with fear must save again or be aged 5d4 years. Those aged must save again or be struck down dead of a heart attack. Those saving at any point are immune to the effects of being in the dark with the anvil for 28 days.

The altar can only be destroyed by casting an exorcism spell upon it, then being placed in direct sunlight from dawn until dusk, and then be shattered by wooden weapons at sundown. The modifiers based on how recent a sacrifice has been made on the altar apply, with the same results for low rolls. The anvil has an armour class of zero and 200 hit points.

The Anvil of Screams was located in the City of Aengmor until 1012, when Bargle and his agents took advantage of the chaos in the city during the battle between shadow elves and dwarves to steal it away. The anvil has not been seen since, and a thorough search of Fort Doom by elven scholars has turned up nothing.