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The Chain of Skulls

by John Hare

This item is a light copper chain with nine small yellowed skulls on it. When worn several voices can be heard, generally arguing about what to do and making complaints about the wearer's lack of skill, intelligence, etc. The voices are a quiet murmuring most of the time but constant. Every week of wear whether consecutive or not requires an insanity check with a 2% non-cumulative chance. The source of the chain can be traced back to the time of Lhomarr. A small cabal of 10 mages working for the Carnifex was experiencing increasing success along their assigned tasks. However while powerful they still had a fear of the Carnifex and the Outer Beings behind them. One member discovered some hidden Carnifex lore and made some amulets which would protect the cabal from the Carnifex and the Outer Beings. Thus bolstered the mages became increasingly arrogant towards their allies. Eventually even angering one of the lesser outer beings which took rapid offence against the mages using the secret disabling word which the discover mage had worked into the amulets of his nine fellow mages. The nine punished for their insolence and forced to serve the Carnifex in a different fashion. Their skulls where shrunk and hung on a copper chain to be displayed around the 10th and still loyal mage's neck. This was to show that loyalty was demanded, as well as respect and that failure would be messy and that they would get service from those betrayers' even after death.

Unfortunately to reward the loyal mage the Outer Beings accidentally drove him insane and he soon killed himself. Thus the chain of skulls was not put to use and was discarded. Occasionally the chain turns up briefly giving the wearer great power but it almost never lasts, due to the arguing of the nine skulls driving the wearer insane.

The chain itself is treated similar to a ring of protection +2 and allows non-mages to be able to memorise spells into the skulls. The skulls do provide quite a bit of raw power. Each skull is treated as a ring of spell storing capable of holding 9 spell levels. Thus the chain altogether has the ability to hold 81 spell levels. In addition each skull gives the wearer a special ability, whether a spell or skill. However too much of their personalities slipped through and the skulls also have some quirks which affect the wearer.

The Skulls abilities and quirks.
1) read magic 3/day - will only work if the wearer is dressed in red silk robes
2) gives infravision - only works at night
3) continual light 1/day - mild phobia of darkness
4) detect magic 3/day - severe phobia of snakes
5) protection vs normal missiles 1/day - only works during the day
6) read/write & speak Carnifex at skill 14 - will only work for 24 hour period after eating lamb
7) pottery skill at 16 - can't handle silver (similar to lycanthropes), takes +1 hp damage from silver weapons
8) hold monster 2/day - the wearer gets a compulsion to knit socks every evening (wis check at -2 to avoid this)
9) curse 3/day - turns all wine within 10' sour

Needless to say getting all the skulls to work at the same time is extremely difficult except for dawn and dusk when the day and night skulls will work together, while wearing red silk robes after eating lamb.