While reviewing some old campaign files, I happened across the following description of a magic item I invented for a 4e campaign a few years ago. The item has more of an old-school feel; it doesn’t really qualify as a 4e trap or hazard, but isn’t a magic item or relic a character can take or use, either, so I’m calling it a “4e item,” for lack of a better term.
The Looking Glass of the Ixenos
Although its original name has been lost to history, the enchanted item now known as The Looking Glass of the Ixenos carries its name from having caused the downfall of the Ixenos family, a human clan of Nurite descent that came to live in Varos, serving the empire as regional exarchs in an outlying province. The family dabbled in the study of and pacts with infernal entities and, influenced by the visions and powers granted by the looking glass, eventually became tieflings. When the family’s infernal nature was discovered, the local church of Pelor led the peasantry and local military in revolt; most family members were slain outright and burned on consecrated ground, but a handful fled to the family’s mausoleum at the edge of their villa, where they were entombed alive with the Looking Glass. The villa and adjacent settlement were considered cursed, and were abandoned to ruin even before the Rising of the Scourge.
The relic is essentially a hemisphere, carved from a reddish crystal of indeterminate origin. The hemisphere is situated with the flat surface facing upward, and set upon a plain onyx pedestal some three feet in height. Abyssal runes are carved along the edges of the flat surface; a DC 15 arcana or religion check allows them to be read as, “The blood makes one more himself than he already is.” The only other disturbance in the mirror-smooth top of the relic is a peculiar depression, perhaps an inch deep and a handspan across, with a needle-sharp spire of the reddish crystal, about three inches high, protruding from its center. A narrow channel has been carved into the spire, starting at the point and spiraling downward into the depression.
When any sentient creatures, excepting tieflings, approach, the Looking Glass sends a telepathic message in the creatures’ native tongues. Common messages include, “Come to me, and you will realize your untapped power,” “Touch the spire and see your true self,” and, “You do not know the power in your own heart; touch the spire and you will see.”
Anyone hearing the message and touching the spire releases a drop of blood, that glows softly as it flows through the channel into the depression. The glow then spreads across the smooth surface of the Looking Glass, shimmering and expanding into a mirror-like surface. The Looking Glass is anything but an ordinary mirror, however; it reflects only the evil present in the viewer. Thus, any imperfect, prime material being will be greeted with a twisted, infernal visage embodying all that is evil and sinful in their hearts, which they instinctively know is absolutely true.
Being suddenly confronted with the unmitigated image of one’s dark side can be overwhelming. In game terms, this mental shock is treated as an attack at +10 upon the viewer’s Will Defense.If the attack misses, the viewer can tear his eyes away without permanent consequence, although experiencing recurring nightmares during the next several weeks is probable. If the attack hits, the viewer has effectively sealed a pact in his own blood with an infernal entity: the benefits of this pact are immediately apparent, but the consequences are not.
The power gained is the permanent ability to re-use an expended encounter power once per day. Unfortunately, every time this ability is used, it causes a change to the viewer’s appearance, in the following sequence:
First instance: the character’s tongue becomes forked. This change is easily concealed, apart from the character having a slight, serpentine lisp for a few days as he grows accustomed to his new anatomy.
Second instance: the character’s canine teeth – both upper and lower – elongate in much the same way as a vampire’s or wolf’s. Again, this can be concealed, although the character may look a bit fuller in the face.
Third instance: the character’s fingernails itch for a few days; after an extended rest, the character awakens to find that his fingernails have transformed into discolored claws. Only gloves or gauntlets can cover this deformity.
Fourth instance: the character’s ears become enlarged, and slope to a point. A hood or helmet must be worn to conceal this change.
Fifth instance: sharp horns, about an inch high, emerge from the character’s head.
Sixth instance: a sulphurous smell wafts about the character at all times, and no amount of bathing can remove it.
Seventh instance: The character’s eyes develop a reddish glow; while he can still see normally, he instinctively knows that further changes will radically alter his physical form, and that he may lose control of his own mind, as well.
Eighth instance: the character’s feet become cloven hooves.
Ninth instance: the character sprouts a slender, pointed tail, measuring about four feet in length.
Tenth instance: the character’s skin is replaced with reddish scales, and the character is surrendered to the Dungeon Master, to be used as a non-player character henceforth.