Endless Blue – Week 47 – The Tantalum Mask of Icht   2 comments

Archaeology

The Tantalum Mask of Icht

The Tantalum Mask of Icht is one of the few remnants of the Icht Dominion left in the hands of modern pisceans.  Little is known of the race that once held sway over so much of the Known World, and what is known is actually vague supposition based on assumptions about this relic.  The artifact is a full face mask with a hinged strap covering the bottom lip and chin.  Two very wide and widely spaced  rhomboid holes serve as eye sockets, with the space under bridge between the eyes and the upper lip sweeping out about two and a half feet to a blunt point.  It is otherwise unadorned, showing the strange bluish-grey, lustrous metal that comprises its nearly spherical shape.  Around the back flares a conical lip, extending perhaps half a foot outwards and upwards, forming a collar.  It too is made from the same strange metal, though how any of this piece of antiquity was made has been lost to the silent depths of the Shelf.

History

The Tantalum Mask first came to light in a consignment of trade goods imported by the Yaun-Teel from the Kouton Bay.  Its significance at that time was unrealized, and was auctioned for a relatively moderate profit based on the unknown substance of which it was comprised.  Records of the purchaser were kept secret, but the next appearance of the mask was in the Arkwall University’s Library of Antiquities.  There it languished more as a curiosity of dubious origin.  It was not until the concerted effort of a group of researchers that established it was of Ichthian origin.

This consortium of students became what was perhaps the most thorough and insightful exploration of the Icht culture, and for a while reaped the benefits of fame and influence as a result.  That golden time of popularity was not to last, and slowly, almost unnoticed, the membership began to pare down due to revilement or shame.  Few escaped the seductive urge to end it all, and by the time any of the membership realized what had happen the group had disintegrated and the members dead at their own hand.  The exhibit of Ichthian artifacts was put in storage and forgotten.  It was not until several decades later that the University was reminded they even owned the relic, only to find it had gone missing.  Reconstruction of the loss led the administration to believe the item had been stolen by a tenured professor and sold on the black market.

The Tantalum Mask did not rise to the attention of historians again until the Kraken Occupation, where it was rumored to have been sequestered among the tribute of various Kraken squid.  As a war prize, the plundered relic was never officially or reputably seen, but Kouton recollection of the war have made mention of the “pointed shell made of strange metal”.  Unfortunately the price demanded by the Kouton for more detailed information was too high for the passing interest of most who researched it or out of the reach of those whom passed it on to newer owners.

Campaign Use

Dissension and sorrow are the inevitable ends wherever the Tantalum Mask is found, but rarely is it ever seen for the emotional drain that it is.  Usually it is sought after, as a boon or treasure, and jealously kept.  Those of affluence, safe to point of boredom with their money, are perfect prey for the inanimate mask to slowly subvert.  An individual such as this may hire the group to recover the tantalizing tantalum creation, perhaps from the possession of another such spoiled soul.  The vain and conceited one may even be one of the party, seeking the artifact as a means to boost their own inflated sense of entitlement and attractiveness.  In the hands of such as these miserable souls, the Tantalum Mask will be coveted and abused to its fullest extent.  It is during this period off frequent utilization that the spell of despite will cloak their minds and turn their once over abundant esteem into festering disdain.  After a brief but glorious time reveling in the mask’s beneficence, that malfeasance of the Icht’s personal image will desecrate everything the wearer holds dear.

Powers

Constant

– The wearer becomes cloaked from prying eyes, so strong was the stigma of the Icht and their looks.  The shame of their countenance seeped into the mask and festered there, stagnant and malign.  Immunity to most any form of divination magic is imbued while the wearer hides his facial features behind the featureless, lustrous material.  Spells such as discern alignment, locate creature, or true seeing do not function when centered on or even vaguely including the Tantalum Masked person, nor can he be scryed upon.
– The torturous longing to be beautiful by an entire species has imbued the artifact with a +5 divine bonus to Charisma.  Whenever a Charisma or Charisma-based skill check is failed, the wearer automatically benefits from a single reroll.  If this second roll fails, it cannot be attempted again under the pervading circumstances.

Invoked

– Their revulsion of their own visage made them ashamed, and pushed the Icht to disguise themselves whenever possible.  Not only does the Tantalus Mask block their true likeness from being gleaned, but it bestows the ability to alter the wearer’s appearance at will.  Just as the face in the mask is nothing like the face behind it, the wearer can make himself appear as any race or species he sees as more attractive.  This acts like an alter self spell, but with the limitation that it can never be used to make the individual appear as another of his own race.  This effect lasts for 24 hours and remains in place for that long even if the mask is taken off or rendered inert.  The number of changes the wearer can make is unlimited, but the individual will remain the same size category as his original form.  The wearer need only imagine the change in his mind and it becomes so.
– The deep luster of the  Tantalum Mask has beguiling properties to those who view it.  They will be come enraptured by the play of color and light across the ripply mirror finish.  Once per day, the wearer may cat the following spells:  hypnotism, suggestion, charm, dominate person.  The target of the spells must be able to see the mask’s wearer and then see themselves reflected in the mask’s liquid-mirage shine.

Curse

– The longer the mask is worn, the greater the individual’s self-esteem plummets and their self-loathing escalates.  As they become more despondent and lose all hope in the future, depression and revulsion in their own appearance will drive them to more desperate measures to improve their image.  Unbidden, the Tantalum Mask begins to force sycophantic praises from those weak-willed around it by means of command, and slowly warps the sound of these faint praises into whispered insults.  The edge and depth of these cuts will grow in severity, exacerbating the wearer’s already floundering sense of worth, inevitably driving him to seek the only logical method of ending the torment — by ending his own existence.

– Failed Charisma or Charisma-based skill checks made while the mask is disguising the wearer as another species result in a racist hatred forming in the mind of the wearer, railing against the race’s inherent inferiority to allow the wearer to pass the check’s Difficulty Class.  The wearer will never again attempt to disguise himself as that species again, and treats others of that race as repulsive.  There are no exceptions to this, and this disgust automatically applies to his own race.

Suggested Means of Destruction

The Icht must be convinced to abandon their virulent despite of their intrinsic beauty.
It must be hidden among utter ugliness for 100 years.
The mask must replace the skull of the most beautiful piscean in the waters of Elqua.

2 responses to “Endless Blue – Week 47 – The Tantalum Mask of Icht

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 47 – Lorem Ipsum « Endless Blue

  2. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 99 – The Vexillifer, Chronicler of the Tides | Endless Blue

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