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Statuette of Yurrgh-Thal:

by Geoff Gander

"In my darkest dreams, when I thought myself alone, I saw a form approach me out of the swirling mists, in this dank, dark place at the back of my mind. Always it beckoned me forth, where, I do not know. How long I had envisioned this place I did not know either, yet always, whenever I cast my vision thence, there came to me one image. Nestled in the midst of a rank miasmic swamp, its foetid gases choking all life that would take root in such a place, there was a forlorn, rocky hillock. Upon that hillock, resting in a tiny depression, there lay a statuette, carved in the likeness of a creature I knew not, nor ever wished to see! That loathsome form burned itself into my mind, so unwholesome a form should not exist - must not exist! Yet my own eyes could not deceive me. Such an inhuman form could not have been imagined; it must have been the sitting subject for some mad sculptor! I ran, then, running as fast as I could, through murky waters and over forgotten hills, frantically seeking a respite from all that I had seen...

"Now, I wander listlessly through my regular haunts, not knowing where my dreams end and my reality begins. I dare not consider what might be the truth."

-- excerpt from "The Testament of Corinn Marylebon", published AC 987 in Glantri City, by Gauthier et fils.

Statuettes of Yurrgh-Thal are not ancient, unlike many other magical items powered by the energies of the Outer Beings. Though they have been in existence for countless centuries, they are rather unique in that they are among the few items that can be crafted by any spellcaster who worships the Outer Beings, using their own magical repertoire. These statuettes are all made of red-veined black marble, which is consecrated in a prayer praising the Outer Beings before being sculpted into its final form. After the ceremony, no less than 10 HD worth of living creatures must be sacrificed over the stone.

The statuettes are carved with special tools, crafted from marh-vhol - an other dimensional metal created by the Outer Beings themselves - and dedicated purely to the making of such unholy items. Although any Outer Being may be the subject of such a magical item, most statuettes of this type are crafted in the image of Yurrgh-Thal, who is among the more active Outer Beings. When crafting this item, most spellcasters employ the services of those who have looked upon Yurrgh-Thal in their dreams, or who have seen a representation of it (not wishing to destroy what vestiges of sanity they have left, and thus lose control over their spellcasting powers and other abilities). What results is a statuette, measuring roughly two feet tall and eight inches wide at the base, carved in an excellent likeness of Yurrgh-Thal - that of a roughly humanoid figure, whose decaying flesh is covered with writhing maggots, pustules, and abscesses from which tentacles and other membranous matter protrudes. The statuette weighs 200 cn. Non-worshippers who look at the statuette in passing will be vaguely disturbed by it, and feel compelled to look elsewhere. Those who look at it intently must make a Horror Check against the statuette's Horror Rating of 2.

The chief use of such statuettes is as a focal point during ceremonies, during which is it placed on an altar where offerings are placed. It is in this function that the statuette serves a darker purpose. For every 5 HD of worshippers who pray before the statuette each turn, it gains one spell level's worth of stored magical energy, up to a maximum of 30 spell levels. This magical energy can then be used by the statuette's wielder to activate its various powers, which are as follows:

1. Radiate a 15' aura of fear around the statuette, with the same effects and duration as the spell of the same name (one spell level per use).

2. Instantly recall any spell cast within the past 24 hours, and be able to cast it again, in much the same way as a ring of memory (applies only to spellcasters, five spell levels per use).

3. Dispel all enchantments and spells that counter the influence of the Outer Beings for one turn (ten spell levels per use).

4. Direct a pillar of magical energy at any opponent, identical in principle to magic missile but doing 2d4+2 damage, once per round (two spell levels per use).

5. Cast death curse of Yurrgh-Thal (statuette crumbles upon activating this power).

It should be noted that the statuette must be held in order to activate its various powers. Anyone of chaotic alignment who holds the statuette will also receive a bonus of -2 to Armour Class, due to the perceptible aura of unwholesomeness that seems to surround the owner; opponents will always feel a slight urge to stay away. Holders of the statuette who are neutral or lawful in alignment receive a penalty of +3 to Armour Class, and are cursed, such that they are unable to put it down. For them, horrid images of Yurrgh-Thal and his minions dominate their dreams, preventing them from obtaining any rest and forcing them to make a Horror Check against a Horror Rating of 5 once per day, due to the sheer terror of the experience and fatigue. DMs should not forget to apply penalties for fatigue, as well. Unless removed by a remove curse spell cast by a cleric of 15th level or greater, the owner will eventually die of sleep deprivation, unless they go insane first.

The most powerful ability of the statuette is the activation of the death curse of Yurrgh-Thal, a 9th-level spell that invokes the power of this Outer Being to pursue a foe unto the ends of the earth - and beyond.

Death Curse of Yurrgh-Thal

Range: One person
Duration: Special
Effect: Curses one individual
This spell, devised in ages past by devotees of the Outer Beings to torment their foes for all time, is quite unique in that, upon its casting, the caster dies. Before death, however, the caster names one individual who is currently located on the same plane as him- or herself. In a formal incantation, the caster curses the individual, and implores upon Yurrgh-Thal to deliver unending horror and suffering upon them until death, and even afterwards. Once the last words are uttered, the spellcaster dies, his or her body suddenly erupting with dozens of sores, from which stream hundreds of maggots, who then consume the earthly remains in three rounds, and burrow underground, leaving nothing but an acrid pool of slime in their wake. There is no saving throw.

The effects of this spell make themselves known on the day of the next new moon (or equivalent time interval on other planes), and every new moon afterwards. At midnight on that day, a lesser servitor of Yurrgh-Thal will be teleported to a location 1d4 miles from the victim, and then proceed to track them down, day and night. As they do not rest, the servitor will trod across the landscape tirelessly, day and night. They are also able to keep a mental image of their quarry's location; even if the victim sails across a lake, or flies, in the hopes of removing any scents, the servitor will simply plod along, homing in on its target along the most direct route. They are so persistent that they will even walk along lake bottoms and scale mountains to get at their victims, and, although they will not attack innocent bystanders, they will try to destroy anything and anyone that tries to stop them. Once it spots its quarry, the servitor will rush to the attack, directing all of its attacks at them, though there is a 50% chance per round that the servitor will attack another person who attacked it during the previous round, if any. During this time, the victim always hears, when his or her surroundings are absolutely quiet, the sound of squelching footsteps, slowly getting louder. This does not inflict any game-related penalties, but it does unnerve the victim, and make them more liable to being surprised (increase the likelihood by 3).

What makes this spell so insidious is that, even if the servitor is killed, another will appear during the night of the next new moon, and continue the hunt. If the first servitor is not killed, a second will appear anyway; there is no real limit to how many may appear, and all of them will be seeking the victim. The only way to end this curse is for the target to die, for a 36th level cleric to cast remove curse, or for the victim to perform a quest to retrieve a rare magical item or destroy an ancient evil. The nature of the quest is for the DM to decide, but it should be arduous, and difficult to realise at first. Ideally, the victim should seek knowledge from a sage of wizard concerning his or her curse, and only then learn of a possible way to end it. This process itself could take a long time, for knowledge of this curse is not widespread.