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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Malevolent Head

An artifact of ancient times and potent magic, the Malevolent Head is a living, sentient artifact (though its sanity is doubtful). The Head was once a complete person, beginning life as a powerful mage in a bygone age. Driven by a lust for power, this mage sought out any form of magic that would lengthen and preserve his life.

All good things come to an end. As his tainted power grew, corrupting mind and body, his enemies multiplied. Eventually they joined forces to blot his evil from the face of the world. The ensuing battles brought entire kingdoms to their knees, and eventually ended when the mage was trapped in the collapse of his own stronghold. The site was left as a smoldering crater, and the victors rejoiced.

Unknown to the victors, the fallen mage survived the holocaust. His body destroyed, all that remains is a hideous, scarred head.

The Malevolent Head appears to be a normal-sized human head, hideously burned and scarred. Only its malevolent gaze reveals its nonliving state. It radiates Legendary necromantic and alteration magic and has the following characteristics:
  • Legendary toughness - even in its current form the Head is protected by potent spells. Few can muster the power required to break these enchantments and permanently destroy the head.
  • Terrifying gaze - The maddened, malevolent stare of the Head is sufficient to keep weaker souls at bay. Approaching within 15' of the head requires an Average test of resolve.
  • Telepathy - The Head can communicate telepathically with any sentient being within 60'.
  • Encyclopedia of Magic - The Head knows... pretty much everything about magic. When it was whole it reigned for centuries over a vast kingdom, and harvested the magical knowledge that grew there. The Head can be compelled to share this knowledge, but it comes with a price...
  • The Price of Knowledge - Each magical spell or power learned from the Head bears a hidden compulsion woven into its substance and form. Each use of a learned ability requires an Average test of resolve to resist this enchantment. Once failed the compulsion will force the victim to assist the Head in achieving its goals (see below).

In its present form the Head cannot make use of its knowledge. Without a body or vocal cords it cannot cast spells or even move. The Head will attempt to gain assistance by sharing the least potent bits of knowledge it possesses in exchange for aid. The Head's goals are:
  • Form - Though its own form was destroyed long ago, if the Head is provided a body (magically constructed, cloned, or otherwise created), it can easily control and use it.
  • Vengeance - The Head will seek to destroy anyone that tried to thwart its plans to obtain a body. From its twisted perspective, that includes pretty much anyone that knows of its existence.
  • Power - Once free the Head will return to its old ways, driven by a monomaniacal lust for power. The Head without a body is a potent and tainted source of magical knowledge and power. The Head with a body has powers sufficient to level cities or destroy an army.
The Head was inspired by Glen Cook's The Silver Spike. All hail the Limper!
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