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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Maw of the Elements

The Maw is a cauldron-like container cut from a single massive chunk of silver-gray hematite. The entire surface of this heavy bowl is engraved with elemental runes arranged in a seemingly random pattern. The interior of the cauldron is polished to a brilliant, smooth finish, and seems to radiate faint warmth. The bowl is about 20 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. It rests upon an intricately carved stand fashioned from burled camphor wood. Each leg of the stand is carved to represent an elemental of the four elements: earth, air, water, fire. If the item is examined for magical properties it will radiate Legendary alteration magic. An Epic test of divination magic will reveal it's capabilities.
The Maw functions as a sort of magical smelter. When any non-living item is placed within the bowl it will fill with a bubbling black liquid, completely covering the contents. This liquid will remain for four hours, churning and bubbling within the container, then recede, leaving the remains of the item behind. Items so treated are reduced to their component elements, with half their volume consumed to fire the smelting process. Living creatures cannot activate the process, though touching the bubbling liquid within the pot causes Great burn damage to anyone so foolish as to make the attempt.
  • The air and fire components escape into the atmosphere during the smelting process, though a clever alchemist might come up with a way to capture these fleeting vapors.
  • The water components form a pool in the bottom of the container.
  • The earth components will be piled within the pool as clods of soil and chunks of pure metal.
The item to be smelted must fit through the mouth of the smelter, though the Maw's interior has a seemingly infinite capacity (an entire ten foot long spear can easily be placed within for example). The process of smelting will often reduce the value of items placed within. Gems will be reduced to common soil, valuable liquids become water, poisonous vapors, and a few dried flakes of chemicals. Metals are a different matter, and the Maw can be used to turn old and rusted weapons into ingots of pure iron, albeit at a loss.
Magical items placed within the Maw suffer the same fate as their mundane counterparts unless they succeed at a resistance check based on their most potent enchantment (Epic success required to resist the Maw's effect). There is a 50% chance that smelting a magical item will release a 60 foot diameter cloud of magically energized gas during the process. This cloud will inflict a magical alteration upon anyone or anything within the area, depending on the primary enchantment of the item smelted. The exact nature of this alteration is left to the whim of the GM, and may be permanent or temporary as desired.
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