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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spirit Skulls

Spirit Skulls are magical totems created by certain primitive shaman to protect sacred sites such as burial grounds or holy lands. Sophisticated practitioners of magic sneer at these crude artifacts, claiming they lack finesse, but Spirit Skulls serve their purpose well.

Each Spirit Skull is a unique object so their appearance varies, but they all have several features in common. Each is created from the perfect skull of a predatory animal such as a wolf, eagle, lion or snake that was slain by the shaman creating the totem. The skull is cleaned and polished, then dyed or painted in colors to reflect the creature's original appearance. Each fang or tooth is inscribed with a magical symbol of strength, cunning, or protection. Once prepared the skull is enchanted in a night long ritual that includes a blood sacrifice and an offering of food to appease the slain animal's spirit. Once the ritual is complete and the first rays of the rising sun strike the skull, the enchantment is complete.

A Great test of divination magic will reveal that a Spirit Skull radiates Superb spirit and protection magic. An Epic test of divination will reveal the command word required to control the Spirit Skull (the word revealed being the true name of the spirit contained within the skull).

If the Skull's name is known, it can touched, moved and reset at will. The primary use of a Spirit Skull is to protect a specific area, no more than 100' in diameter. Anyone who enters the area without naming the guardian spirit automatically summons it forth and it instantly attacks anyone that violates the boundaries it was set to guard. If a Skull is not actively guarding an area it will remain passive unless touched, which has the same effect as entering a protected area.

The spirit summoned forth from the Skull takes the form of a giant-sized variant of the most powerful version of the creature in question. A wolf's skull will summon forth a giant dire wolf, a bear's skull a giant cave bear, and a serpent's skull a massive anaconda. The spirit creature has the following characteristics:
  • Superb toughness.
  • Great combat abilities - the spirit creature has access to any attack forms available to the base creature type.
  • Superb creature abilities - the spirit creature can use any special abilities (tracking or running for example) available to the base creature type.
  • Immunity to mundane weapons - the creature's insubstantial form makes it immune to mundane attacks.
  • Great magical resistance.
  • Spell-breaker strike - Any blow struck by a spirit has a Good chance to shatter any temporary magic affecting the target (permanent enchantments are unaffected).
  • Perpetual - If the spirit creature is slain, it returns to the spirit world, where it must remain until dawn of the following day. During this period the spirit cannot be summoned.

The totem itself is difficult to destroy (Superb toughness), but if the spirit creature it represents is slain and cannot be summoned, toughness falls to Good.

Once summoned a spirit creature will defend its totem and the area it wards to the death, attacking anyone that ventures into the protected area. It will remain within line of sight of the warded area at all times.
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