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Companions of the Shell -- Adventure Hooks (The Scutes of Chelona)by Tristan Dunigan
(Many thanks to Bruce Heard for letting me use this little idea)
The Scutes of Chelona
This adventure hook is quite reminiscent of the Knights of the Round Table in search for the Holy Grail. Many Tortle adventurers have left their villages and joined the Company in search of the lost Scutes of Chelona. The scutes, since Chelona's death, have become magical artifacts embodying the true character of Tortles. Each scute is a manifestation of one of the six ideal tortle traits: wisdom, honesty, compassion, tenacity, bravery, and honour. Each has different powers related to these manifestations. The scutes appear as brownish and slightly concave leathery hexes from the back of a tortle's shell, varying from six to twelve inches in size. Each has a different yellow mark comparable to a rune and a distinct set of powers and secondary effects.
General Properties: only Good-aligned beings can touch these artifacts without suffering damage. Those with Neutral alignments suffer 2d4+2 points of damage per round while handling a scute. No saving throw is allowed. If handling the scute with gloves or any sort of protection, magical or otherwise, halve the damage. Evil beings suffer 2d8+4 points per round and cannot use the scutes' magical powers.
Scute of Wisdom - Stands for wits and intuition: currently in the possession of a Robrenn druid, it is mounted inside a plain, sturdy oaken chest. The druid knows it bears some supernatural significance without understanding its origins. He assumes it has links with the forces of nature, which is why his order has safeguarded it for generations. Once a day, the scute bestows upon one who touches the artifact the ability to cast any single detection or divination spell cast at 20th level. Its secondary effect melts the user's eyes should these abilities be used directly or indirectly to acquire any wealth or material goods, or enable associates to acquire them. A level spellcaster can restore sight with a dispel magic or a regenerate spell.
Scute of Honesty - Stands for goodwill and virtue: it is buried along with the bones of a holy man under the floor of the Grande Catedral in Ciudad Quimeras, in Narvaez. This nearly flat scute is part of the front cover of a large, leather-bound prayer book. Once a day, the scute enables its user to identify all creatures of goodwill and virtue within sight (essentially Neutral Good or Lawful Good creatures) and provide all of them with the effects of any one single protection spell such as bless, protection from evil, protection from fire, etc, cast at 20th level. On the other hand the user would permanently lose a point of Charisma, should he either lie, cheat, or steal within the Time of Prayer. This period of time lasts from the moment the scute is used to a number of hours equal to the protected people, time six.
Scute of Compassion - Stands for forgiveness and unselfishness: a dirt poor but benevolent lizardman shaman near The Bayou recovered the artifact. He had it mounted in a large, bone-framed altar, decorated with paints, feathers, and claws. Lizardmen sometime visit this ancient, frail hermit to pay homage or to revive a loved one who passed away. This scute has the power to resurrect one creature per day. The creature must either have met an untimely and unfair end (not a result of the creature's acts), or be a foe of the user's. When doing so, the user and associates each lose one random magical item (including other artifacts) which are teleported to Chelona's home plane, or 1d4 hit points permanently if no magic is available other than this scute. Teleported items need not be on the owners' persons to qualify. Should the user or associates have negotiated some sort of payment for the use of the scute's power, all of the user's possessions and associates' within 100 miles are subject to a disintegration spell.
Scute of Tenacity - Stands for hard work and faith in oneself: a Renardois farmer dug up this scute from the earth while ploughing his field. He kept it as an ornament in his hovel until he discovered its magic. Since then, he had it mounted on an granite base. Upon identifying a task in six spoken words or less, the scute enables its user to work on a task tirelessly, without requiring food, water, sleep, or rest of any kind until the task is completed. During that period of time the user cannot age magically or otherwise, and is immune to sleep spells and mind- controlling magic. The artifact also temporarily neutralises diseases, poisons, and any other mind- or body-altering substances until the user completes the task. Meanwhile, the user's wounds cannot heal magically or otherwise, and magical potions cannot deliver their power.
Scute of Bravery - Stands for gallantry and fortitude: an ancient and most vicious dragon called Pyre captured this item from a fallen knight. She keeps it on an out-of-reach ledge, above her treasure trove. The scute is mounted on a metal shield decorated with a silver leaf pattern, long since tarnished and covered with cobwebs and dust. When held as a shield or touched, the scute temporarily adds three experience levels to the user's current level. It provides immunity to all poisons and a +2 bonus to all saving throws. For tortles, the scute improves natural armour class half-way down to AC -10 (ignore fractions), else it only provides a magical +2 bonus to armour class. The scute's powers should only be used in defence, when the user or associates did not provoke an attack. Else the user contracts a rotting disease comparable to the one undead mummies can inflict.
Scute of Honour - Stands for duty & respect: this wondrous item presently lies in the hands of the Company of the Shell - a benign group of well intentioned Tortles, honourbound to the defence and well-being of their kin. The scute is the centre-piece of an icon that is imbedded inside a tortle-made piece of pottery. The bearer of this artifact must honour his Immortal (be it Chelona or another) and his ancestors with daily prayers, and promote the ancient ways of the tortles. Once a day, it bestows upon its user the ability to cast any single communication spell (such as commune, contact other plane, prayer, speak with dead, etc) at 20th level of experience. It also provides tortle lore and etiquette, as well as the ability to speak and write the language of any sort of tortle, as free and permanent proficiencies.
Its second effect requires the user accept and pursue any single Lawful Good quest benefiting the Tortle race, which may come up in the future. The user cannot later decline the quest by getting rid of the artifact, and is under the effect of a XXXth level geas. The user must also help out any innocent folk in distress, provided the act would not detract from an on-going quest. Failure to help the weak or complete daily prayers causes a XXX dice lightning bolt to hit the user at the first occurrence. The second time, the user's alignment changes one step away from the Lawful Good pole. On the third, the scute teleports away to a random, remote location.