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Magical Instruments:

by Carl Quaif

The following are some enchanted musical instruments from my campaign. All items are useable by Bards, Minstrels, or any character with the requisite skill, unless otherwise stated in the item description.

The Horn of Rathanos:

This is a 2 ft-long horn, of the type used by hornblowers in castles to announce the beginning of a tournament or some other event. It is made of an unknown metal, similar to bronze, but with a blood-red colouring. Three glyphs are stamped into the metal, halfway down its length, and roughly an inch apart. These resemble no language known on Mystara, and cannot be understood even with Read Languages or Read Magic spells. The Horn is always warm to the touch. Its origins are unknown; the Horn's name derives from its powers, rather than any link with the fiery Immortal.

The Horn functions as a normal musical instrument when played, although the player must have some skill in its use or the sound is horrendous. If the player touches his fingers to all three glyphs and blows through the mouthpiece, the Horn fires a small Fireball from the other end, which explodes either on contact or upon reaching the maximum range of 75', causing 2d6 damage to all within 10' radius (save for half damage). the Horn may be used in this manner three times a day.

An ancient device, the Horn of Rathanos was last seen in the hands of the Flaemish Wizard Olifar Emoris in the Summer of 964 AC, who used it to drive a band of Ethengar herdsmen away from his camp on the Glantrian border. Olifar was reported killed less than 6 months later; the Horn has not been seen since.

Harian's Recorder of Dancing:

This item, made by the instrument-maker Harian Fermish of Darokin City, appears to be a simple wooden recorder of the type used by street-entertainers. Harian, secretly the Guild Master of the Silk Shoe Thieves' Guild, designed it to trigger confusion in crowds, making the task of pickpocketing easier for his Thieves.

The Recorder of Dancing is cunningly designed to hold a single small dart inside. When a secret catch is released, the musician may use the Recorder as a blowpipe, firing the dart at any target within about 15' (normal "to hit" roll applies). Although the Recorder is not magical, the darts are, having been soaked in Tarantella venom which is magically treated to preserve many of its properties. Anyone struck by one of these darts must make a Saving Throw vs. Death or begin to dance, spasmodically and uncontrollably, for 2d6 + 5 rounds. Unlike normal Tarantella bites, those viewing the dancer are not forced to begin dancing themselves, but pickpockets taking advantage of the commotion do get a 15% bonus to their Pick Pockets success roll against rapt onlookers. The unfortunate victim of the dart collapses in exhaustion once the effect ends, and must rest for 1d4 hours to recover their strength. Until then, they can only move at one quarter of their normal speed, and suffer a penalty of -2 to hit and damage rolls when fighting. The Recorder takes a round to reload, since the darts must be handled with care.

Harian has made at least two dozen Recorders, and has started a lucrative sideline selling them to Guilds in other cities for a hefty profit. He keeps a hired Wizard to enchant the darts, using captive Tarantella spiders who are regularly "milked" of venom, and sells them in packages of 20 at an even higher rate - the Recorders are only musical instruments without the darts, after all. Harian will not reveal the secret of the enchantment process at any price.

There are several ways the PCs could get their hands on a Recorder of Dancing; PC Thieves might be sent to buy, or otherwise acquire, Recorders and darts from Harian, or to find out the secret of the dart's manufacture; Clerics could be sent by their Church to help with the "dancing disorder" that plagues Darokin City; or Harian, struggling to maintain supply, might hire the Adventurers (through a false company) to acquire additional quantities of Tarantella venom, either from suppliers, or from the beasts themselves....

Ymarien's Lute:

This lute is made of pale beechwood from the Callarii Forests and inlaid with delicate traceries of mother-of-pearl. Created for the Elven Minstrel Ymarien, its soft and delicate tone perfectly complements her sweet, gentle voice.

Ymarien's Lute is magically "programmed" to cause certain spell effects when the requisite songs are played. It can hold a maximum of 6 different spell-codes at any time. The current selection is as follows:-

- - Fisherman's Wake: This is a jolly sea shanty. When played on a ship, or near the shore, it attracts up to 3d6 HD of fish within 360' of the Lute towards it. Such fish will even beach themselves, or leap onto the deck of the ship, to reach the source of the music. The musician cannot specify what creatures are called, and may potentially summon a monster species. By modulating the tune to minor chords, the musician can reverse the effect, driving the sealife away as if affected by a Fear spell. Both versions of the tune last for 1 Turn.

- - The Contemplative Lover: This is a quiet ballad. If the musician gazes into a still pool of water (either natural or artificial) while playing this air, and pictures a specific person, the image of that person's current location will appear. This image is visible to anyone looking in the pool, although it is oriented towards the musician. The effect is similar to that created by a Crystal Ball, and does not include sound, although someone skilled at reading lips might be able to understand the gist of any conversation. The person viewed must be someone the musician knows fairly well (or at least met and conversed with on three separate occasions). If the individual, or their location, is warded against detection, the effect will fail; similarly, if the scrying pool is disturbed, the effect is broken. Otherwise, the tune's power lasts for 1 Turn.

- - Light a Penny Candle: This is simple, repetitive nursery song. When played, it conjures a small glowing ball of soft yellow light before the musician, equivalent in brilliance to a Light spell. The ball may be moved by the musician's will to any spot within 10' of her location. The effect lasts for as long as the tune is played, up to a limit of 3 Turns; if the musician stops playing, the light blinks out. Playing this tune to provide light in a "dungeon delve" is unwise, as it negates chances for surprise by the Party.

Each tune may be played no more than once per week, with magical effect. Additional spell-codes can be implanted by any Bard who knows the Metamagic spell Songs of Life (see below), although once the full complement has been reached, existing tunes must be erased before new ones can be entered.

Additional instruments bearing this enchantment could be found anywhere that Bards are known; such an item is made from expensive materials, and must be crafted by a master instrument-maker. Pre-existing instruments of sufficient quality may be enchanted, but most Bards prefer to work with a new instrument made to their specifications.

The Lute was created by the Eusdrian Bard Sigurd, as a token of affection for Ymarien.

Bard Sigurd's Spells:

These spells were devised by Sigurd, a Human Bard from Eusdria (and Master Horolo's first apprentice), whose genius at magical invention could have made him a powerful Wizard had he not chosen to become a Bard.

Always and Forever
Level: 5
Range: touch
Duration: permanent
Effect: prepares an item to receive permanent enchantment
This spell is the Bardic equivalent of a Permanence spell, specifically designed for enchanting magical items, or living beings, with music. The spell is very difficult, taking 12 hours to cast and requiring three separate Intelligence Checks (1 per every 4 hours). If any one of these is failed, the spell is ruined, and the item to be enchanted cannot be used for this purpose again. If successful, however, the item may hold whatever spell is required (most typically a Songs of Life spell), and permit that spell to be recast once per day, per week, or per month, as specified in the original casting.

Note: the above casting-time is for the default "once per week" result. To cast an effect from the item once per day, inflict a -2 penalty to the Intelligence Check; for once per month, allow a +2 bonus. When Always and Forever is successfully cast on an item, roll 1d6; this is the number of spells which may be laid upon the enchanted item. If it is a living being that is enchanted, the result is always 1.

Enchanted musical instruments must be played to trigger their effects; human beings must sing to activate their enchantment. If the item enchanted is non-musical (a statue, for instance), some other means of activation must be found.

Songs of Life
Level: 4
Range: variable
Duration: variable
Effect: 1 song
This is a metamagic, a spell which includes any number of sub-spells. Songs of Life are songs, or pieces of music, which incorporate some form of spell effect in their structure. When creating a spell using this metamagic, the caster may either select a normal Magic-User spell effect (that he knows) of level 1 -3, or research a unique effect of his own (see the Rules Cyclopaedia chapter on researching new spells). The spell is bound up with one particular song or tune, which may be memorised by any musical spellcaster as a 4th-level spell. The Spellsong is cast as normal.

Most Songs of Life are designed to be played on a specific instrument, and may or may not include vocals. A variant version must be designed is a different instrument is used, although this takes one quarter of the time and cost of originally creating the Spellsong.

Example Songs of Life are as follows:-

- - The Lover Who's Faithful and True - this country ballad, played on a violin and sung, casts a Charm Person effect on one member of the opposite sex to the musician. The duration and other effects are otherwise normal. The song must be played for 1 Turn to activate the magic.

- - A Cloak of Shadows - this disturbing tune, played on a flute, causes the caster, or one person or object within 10' of the caster, to become Invisible. The effect is permanent until broken, as normal. The song must be played for 2 Turns to activate the magic.

- - The Faery Ring - this haunting melody, played on a lap harp (or any kind of harp) and sung, causes one person (other than the caster) within 20' to Levitate, as per the spell. The target Levitates under the control of the caster. The effect lasts for up to 1 Turn, and requires the caster to play continuously to maintain it.