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Heart's Desire

by Alex Benson

Stats: Charm (see below); Health Drain (see below).

The Heart's Desire grants the wearer the ability to win the heart of a person of the opposite sex. The item causes a target to become infatuated with the wearer, falling deeply in love with him or her. The Heart becomes active by the wearer seeing his or her rebuked love. The target must make a save vs. spell or begin seeing the wearer as more attractive and charming. The change is gradual, the appeal being measured as a +1 bonus to the wearer's charisma per sighting. Once the wearer's charisma is adjusted to 18, the target is infatuated. At 20, they become obsessive. The charisma bonus does not rise above 20.

The wearer cannot simply use the Heart's Desire on anyone. He or she must have an existing interest in a person. For whatever reason, the wearer must have little chance at winning the affections of the target. Only one target can be affected at a single time. Others see no difference in the wearer, the obsessional interest of the target is often comes as a shock to friends, family, and bystanders.

The Heart's Desire is an evil item that feeds off of the very life force of the wearer's target. The target becomes weak, their health steadily declines. The target loses 10% of their health points per day that they within visual sight of the wearer. Death is not automatic. The wearer can easily stop and reverse the process by removing the Heart of Desire.

If the target does perish, the wearer is greatly affected. He or she must make a save vs. or go insane. Additionally, their base charisma, strength, and constitution all drop 2d4 points. This leaves them a shell of their former selves as they grieve their loss, accept their blame, and bear a degree of social stigma. The Heart's Desire always mysteriously vanishes after it has killed and ruined the couple.

Description: The Heart's Desire is an amulet. The amulet's chain is of fine chain links. There is no clasp. Attached to the chain is a small blackened lump set on a mount of platinum. Close examination reveals that the lump is roughly shaped like an actual heart. Touching the lump produces a slight vibration.

Historical Lore: The Heart's Desire is an evil item born from jealousy and greed. It has its origin in the Alphatian kingdom of Ambur. The magess Xathesa, though a mighty mage, lack the physical beauty and personality to draw the attentions and affections of a man. In particular, she had her eye upon a warrior named Darthus. Charming and handsome, Darthus was a favourite of the Ambur social circles in spite of his being a non-spellcaster. Darthus politely turned aside the approaches of the magess.

Tired of her lonely life, she turned to her magics to remedy what she lacked. Xathesa utilised dark and powerful magics to summon a fiend from the darkest corners of the multiverse. She posed to it her dilemma. The fiend offered a remedy that would "secure the unquestioned affections of her would be love until they were separated by death". In return, the fiend made certain unknown and unmentionable demands.

After acquiring oaths that the fiend would not attack her or double cross her, Xathesa agreed to the fiend's terms and set about filling his demands. The fiend became Xathesa's guest for nearly a year before it was deemed that his demands were met. At that time, he produced the Heart's Desire and gave it to her. Without any additional instruction or comment, the fiend vanished.

Xathesa excitedly dressed in her finest gowns and adorned herself with her most exquisite jewellery. She went out on the town, seeking out the object of her affections. She found him and the Heart's Desire activated. Within days, the once distant Darthus was hers.

The two quickly became "a couple" being seen everywhere and drawing strange looks from bystanders. The pairing was at first thought an odd display of Darthus' charm by obliging Xathesa's apparent affections by obliging her to a few dates. However, they were in each other's company too often in too many public places. The whole matter was quite scandalous, especially when Xathesa displayed her frequent shortcomings in social grace.

Worrying for him, Darthus' friends and family of tried to reason with him about this strange and unexpected infatuation with Xathesa. By this time, his health was clearly fading on him. He would not listen to them. They figured that the magess had cast some spell upon him; surely such a thing was within her power. They began working to break whatever magical hold she had on him.

Their efforts came too late, as Darthus withered away before everyone's eyes. He quickly deteriorated and finally perished at a well attended social ball. Xathesa broke down crying at seeing her love perish. As accusers demanded to know what she had done to their friend, she could only respond with delusional ramblings about "a fiend", "the amulet", and "it being all her fault". All the while, she grasped at her heck for an amulet that had vanished.

Xathesa was later brought up on charges for Darthus' death. Being a spellcasting aristocrat, her punishment was light and based on hefty fines paid to the family. However, her sanity and lacklustre social standing fell severely after the death. Alienation was replaced with outright scorn and hate. She found herself spat upon by spellcaster and non-spellcaster alike.

Xathesa shut herself away in her tower and saw no one. Three years later, she threw herself from the top of the tower. Kingdom officials entered her tower. Scouring through her erratic notes and journals they quickly determined the fiend's involvement, providing answers to many questions. Still, they never found the amulet.

The amulet has since resurfaced from time to time through Mystara. The fiend Kydoss seeks out the lovelorn and makes his proposal. He is very careful and very thorough in choosing his victims. His list of victims range from nobility down to the lowest street urchin. The Brotherhood of Tahl has been on his trail years and have yet to discover his stronghold. Their agents seek out such strange pairings and become quite visible whenever the amulet is spotted.

DM Notes: The Heart's Desire should be considered a dangerous and evil item, cursed to fill the wearers most basic need for affection while grievously destroying that love before their very eyes. It's cruel and sadistic, but it is something quite in tune with the mindset of a fiend. Use in an adventure should be limited. A DM should remember that a fiend is behind this item so keep PC levels in mind. Likewise, don't automatically involve noteworthy NPCs as such actions will draw undue attention. Not what a crafty super-genius fiend is going to do to potentially spoil his fun.