Thursday, February 9, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet of the Abyss

Get used to seeing "amulet" in the title. This begins a long section of neck baubles. We definitely start with a bang. Because who doesn't want a combination cell phone/multipass to the Abyss?


On the Prime Material Plane, an amulet of the Abyss is indeed rare, but it is an item commonly worn by honored guests when traveling through certain layers of the Abyss. The amulet consists of a 36-inch silver chain from which hangs a disk of tooled adamantite about 3 inches in diameter. Some type of identifying mark is placed on the amulet's front, and its inscribed back (in Tanar'ri) bears the name of the wearer and the areas to which access is allowed.
Amulets usually radiate magic and possess a strong aura of evil. The amulet enables the wearer to summon
tanar'ri aid twice per day. At the wearer's option, it may summon 1d6 manes or 1-2 dretch. All summoning is done indirectly through Arzial, a baron serving under Graz'zt, and is subject to possible denial. If approved, the summoned creatures serve without question and remain for 3d6 hours or until dismissed. The
summoning requires 1-8 rounds, depending on the speed of the baron's answer. Summoning may be performed only by evil persons with knowledge of the correct idiom and pronunciation of tanar'ri names. Any neutral PC attempting to summon creatures suffers 1d10 hp damage per attempt. Any PC of good alignment suffers 3d8 hp damage, and there is a 10% chance of attracting the attention of Arzial.
The amulet may be used to communicate with Arzial directly, once per month, with two questions per contact. The answers received are not always correct, and Arzial dislikes frequent contact.

One thing I find fascinating is that this item is only valued at 2000gp. I'm pretty sure a 36-inch chain of silver plus a 3-inch disk of admantite would be pretty close to that value without the magic. The value of the items in this book is wildly inconsistent.

Unless your party includes an evil mage or cleric, this amulet isn't likely to be useful to them. If they are evil (or are playing 3.x and can pretend to be evil convincingly enough), it's pretty darned useful. Summoning demons twice a day just doesn't suck. Interestingly, though, it is only the summoning function that depends on alignment. A paladin could use it to either talk to Arzial or infiltrate the Abyss.

Of course, the most likely use for this item is as a tool for the villain of the piece, or the object of a quest to destroy it. Not a lot of subtlety or complications involved.

I really do like the flavor inherent in this item. The detail in the description is great. The fact that it comes with an attached cranky NPC is just fabulous.

Arzial would also be a great angle for PCs to exploit. Suppose they are fighting an evil cleric of Graz'zt. This amulet gives the cleric enormous ability to wipe out most opposition. The party is unable to stand up to the summoned demons. But, instead, they find a way to drive a wedge between the cleric and Arzial (or otherwise occupy Arzial). The party launches an attack on the cleric. He laughs and calls for his demonic aid. Which doesn't arrive.

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