The Observations and Insights of an Itinerant Archmage
by Tervine Culver (aka Carl Quaif)
22 Fyrmont 1013:
It has been only one day aboard the Fair Nancy, and already I have grown impatient to reach Alpha, and Calomon. I know that I will make this journey none the less painful by my impatience; and so, as I sit here on the deck of the Nancy - cool ocean spray on my face, Sarabine at the wheel - I shall transcribe my findings on an intriguing area of research, which I had completed just before leaving Krakatos for Minrothad. (I am amazed, upon reflection, how much my life has changed in so short a time!)
In our world, Nature has been responsible for many wonders; magic, as wielded by the sentient races of the world, has accounted for many more. Yet nowhere is the potential of combining both magic and nature more excellently displayed than in the simple oval casement of the Egg of Wonder. These fragile, yet potent, objects are often overlooked by crude adventurers and powerful Magi alike - for they are difficult to transport safely, can be used only once, and function in a random fashion. Indeed, they are often considered little more than a joke by those who have not seen them used in combat.
Yet I pause a moment to reflect. To think of the power that is granted by the simple act of dropping, or hurling, one of these objects; a beast is summoned, or created, or otherwise brought into being which is utterly loyal and obedient to the summoner, performing whatever task it is given, even to the extent of giving up its own life in service.
Of course, the masters of Art and the favoured of the Immortals may call upon similar powers, but not easily. A priest must wait until his Immortal Master deems him ready before he may change Sticks to Snakes or Animate Dead; a druid, likewise, must reach an equal stage of development before he may Summon Animals to serve him. A mage must strive even harder, mastering a spell of the fifth circle of magic - Conjure Elemental - before he may summon up another creature to serve at his whim (Charm spells notwithstanding). Yet a simple thief or fighter, given access to an Egg, may conjure up a bear, or wolf, or other beast which will obey him without question until it fades or dies, thus putting his more mystical colleagues to shame!
And so we establish the usefulness of the Egg of Wonder. But how are these small miracles created in the first place? I have researched in subject in much depth.
Creating an Egg of Wonder:
There are many methods, both simple and complex, for enchanting objects with temporary or permanent power. The same applies to the creation of an Egg, although I shall restrict myself here to the more simplistic procedures.
The true reason an egg is used, rather than parts of a living creature, is a matter of potential. Within any egg is the spark of life as yet unformed, and therefore malleable and ripe for change and enhancement - the casement is therefore already predisposed towards the enchanter's purpose. It is the method that the enchanter uses which determines what creature(s) will emerge from the finished article.
Firstly, there is the route most often taken by Magi - the use of spells to create an item. While this is usually cheaper and considerably quicker than, for instance, the Alchemical method, it rarely produces items of exceptional longevity - the spell Permanence is required to ensure the Egg remains efficacious for any great length of time, extending the duration indefinitely (provided it is removed from the world on the so-called "Day of Dread"). Below, I have included a number of spells which show the progression in developing a truly effective enchantment for Eggs of Wonder, using this method: [Game Note: The wording of the following spells has been altered slightly, to show the dice rolls, Intelligence checks and saving throws required during casting. We apologise for any confusion this may cause to any Magi seeking to experiment with these spells. -C.Q.]
Duration: see below
Effect: enchants an egg
This is the first spell a budding Egg-enchanter learns on the long road towards his goal; it is simple in effect and of brief duration, but is a very positive step towards mastery in this artform. The spell requires both an egg - the product of any natural (i.e., non-magical, although Giant versions are permitted) oviparous creature of animal intelligence will do, be it avian, piscine, insectoid or serpentine (or even saurian, if working in a so-called "lost world" setting), but it must have been laid within the last three days - and a pinch of powdered eggshell from a Roc, or from any breed of true Dragon. Note that, while this last ingredient may be taken from either discarded eggshells or unhatched eggs, this has a marked effect on the spell's efficacy and duration (see below).
To cast the spell, the egg must be placed gently in the dead embers of a campfire, to warm and quicken the living potential within; the powdered eggshell is then sprinkled onto it while the words of the spell are spoken. The caster must make an Intelligence check (roll equal to or less than Int score on 1d20); if successful, the Life Awakened spell comes into effect, creating an Awakened Egg. A single casting of the spell can create only one such item; multiple eggs require multiple spells.
If an Awakened Egg is dropped or thrown, shattering the shell, a cloud of noxious yellow smoke rises from it. One round later, the smoke resolves into the shape of an adult of the species which laid the egg in question - so a chicken egg will produce a hen or a cockerel, for instance. This creature will proceed to attack the single nearest living being, whether or not its natural instincts would tell it to do otherwise, until either the creature or its target are dead, or the duration of its existence (1d4 rounds, plus 1 round per two levels of the caster) expires - at which point it changes back into smoke, which disperses on the air. The beast will not otherwise obey the one who hurled the egg; such a one should take care not to be the closest to the egg when it breaks!
The conjured creature may have a maximum of one HD per level of the caster, assuming its natural number of Hit Dice is not lower (the aforementioned chicken egg, for example, would produce a 1 HD creature at best), if the powdered eggshell originally came from an unhatched Dragon or Roc egg; if taken from the leftover shards, it may have no more than half that number. Likewise, a prepared Awakened Egg retains its enchantment for one week per level of the caster in the former example, or one day per caster's level in the latter.
Duration: See below
Effect: enchants an egg
This spell - a more advanced version of the Life Awakened spell - allows the enchanter to broaden the range of creatures available to him beyond that which the earlier enchantment requires.
As before, both powdered Roc- or Dragon-eggshell and a normal egg (hen's eggs are most easily available, and are frequently employed in this version of the spell) are required. However, as the name suggests, the caster must also obtain blood-samples from a number of different normal, or giant-sized, animals (no less than six, no more than twelve) for inclusion in the spell. Once again, only one egg can be enchanted at a time, using this method. To prepare the egg, the caster must fill a small pan or cauldron with water and heat it to near boiling point. The egg is then held in the caster's right hand, the first phrase of the spell is spoken, and the egg is dropped into the water. A pinch of eggshell is added to prepare the egg; then, while uttering the middle phrase of the spell over and over, exactly three drops of blood from each animal are added to the brew, one animal at a time. To seal the spell, more eggshell is added, and the last phrase spoken in an ascending scale, ending on a high-pitched shriek as all the water in the pan evaporates at once, leaving the egg unharmed within.
The caster must make an Intelligence check (roll equal to or less than Int score on 1d20) to determine if the spell worked, and additional checks for each animal whose blood was incorporated - if less than four of these succeed, the spell is ruined. This Blood Ovum is now ready for use. If a Blood Ovum is dropped or thrown, it explodes in a flash of magical light; when this fades, a fully-grown creature has appeared in its place (depending on how many blood-samples were included, roll one of the smallest type of die required to include that number to determine which creature appears. If the die roll is higher than the number of creatures available, roll again). This beast, whatever it is, has no more than one HD per level of the caster - or one per two levels, see Life Awakened for details - and will attack, or break off an attack, on the thrower's command. It can only obey these two commands. If the spell's duration ends (1d6 rounds, + 1 round per level of caster), or the beast is slain, it vanishes in a similar burst of light.
A Blood Ovum will remain fresh and ready to use for one week per level of the caster if fresh eggshell is employed, or two days per caster's level if hatched shards are used.
Duration: see below
Effect: enchants an egg
The third stage in the development of spells for creating Eggs of Wonder, this spell allows the caster to incorporate magical and/or sapient creatures within his creation. This spell strongly resembles Blood Ovum in its enchantment method. As one might expect, the components include powdered Roc/Dragon-eggshell and a normal egg, plus fresh blood from the required beasts - seven drops per creature, this time. The blood of exactly six creatures must be used in the Egg's creation. No beast may be chosen that has more HD than the caster has levels, nor may it have more than one asterisk (*) next to its HD. Finally, Humans and Demi-Humans (including Gnomes) cannot be incorporated into this spell (at the DM's option, all PC races in her campaign may be excluded). As before, only one egg may be enchanted per casting.
To prepare the egg, the caster must place it on a small iron tripod, manufactured for this purpose, and light a candle beneath it. A small brazier - likewise, specially made - must be placed between the caster and the tripod, and lit. While the spell is spoken in a repeating litany (a process which must take precisely three minutes, no more and no less, or the spell is ruined - to ensure proper timekeeping, some manner of sand-timer or chronograph may need to be employed), the blood is poured into the brazier, with a pinch of eggshell following each dose. At the end of the spell, the brazier must be doused in Holy (or Unholy) Water; this magically snuffs out the candle, as well.
The caster must make an Intelligence check (roll equal to or less than Int score on 1d20) to determine if the spell worked, and additional checks for each animal whose blood was incorporated - if any of the checks fail, the spell is ruined, and the Egg explodes in flames, causing 4d6 damage to all within 10'. If successful, the Egg of Fantastic Summons is ready to be used.
If an Egg of Fantastic Summons is dropped or thrown, it breaks open with a loud crack, and a globe of light shoots out of it, resolving into a full-grown, battle-ready version of the chosen creature (roll 1d6 to determine which creature is summoned). The creature will obey the thrower of the Egg to the best of its ability for the duration of its service (1d6 rounds, + 1 round per level of caster). At the end of that time, or when the creature is slain, it simply fades away.
An Egg of Fantastic Summons will remain useable for one week per level of the caster if using fresh eggshell, or three days per caster's level if hatched shards are used.
Secondly, there is the Alchemical method, or "true" enchantment - the use of rare and arcane ingredients to create the finished product. Again, there is considerable variation to be found in this process, but rather than list hundreds of slightly-different recipes, I shall instead provide the one with which I, personally, am most familiar:
Cardew's Cerulean Eggs of Wonder
Six fresh hen's eggs (Malpheggi Blue, for preference)
One ounce of powdered Roc shell
One Potion of Growth
One pint of acid (Black Dragon is best)
5,000gp-worth of powdered Sapphire
One wolf fang
One eagle talon
One boar tusk
Two tiger claws
One carrion crawler tentacle (fresh)
One stirge wing
Nine drops of dragon's blood (any)
One iron cauldron (medium)
One silver rod
One ceramic mortar and pestle (large)
One chopping knife
First, set your brazier to burning with a good hot flame. Fill the cauldron with water, and place over the brazier. While the water heats up, prepare your ingredients. Chop the carrion crawler tentacle into bite-size segments (being careful to avoid lingering paralytic effects). Use the mallet to crush the wolf fang, boar tusk, and tiger claws into powder. Carve or tear the stirge wing into small chunks, and break the eagle talon into pieces. Fill the mortar with acid and carefully drop the crushed ingredients into it, making sure they dissolve properly. Add the dragon's blood drop by drop, and toss in roughly half of the powdered roc's eggshell. Use the pestle to mash the resulting mix into a thickish paste.
Once the water is boiling nicely, add the Potion of Growth and the powdered sapphire to the cauldron; this should cause the water to glow with a pleasant bluish tint. Scoop the mixture from the mortar into the cauldron and stir vigorously with the silver rod. Finally, throw the remaining powdered roc's egg into the cauldron; this will cause the contents to bubble and froth. Continue stirring until the liquid again turns clear, then remove the cauldron from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for ten minutes.
Gently place the eggs in the mixture, cover the cauldron, and leave to soak for thirty days. At the end of that time, check to see if the eggs have survived [Note: In game terms, this means the player must make a Save vs. Spells for each egg, using the maker's Saving Throw. If successful, the enchantment will have taken properly, creating an Egg of Wonder. A failure means that the egg has cracked, shattered or melted at some point, and is therefore useless; nasty DMs might decide that one ruined Egg contaminates the rest, spoiling them - or perhaps creating a completely unexpected effect. -C.Q.].
Remove the surviving Eggs from the cauldron, wash them carefully to remove the remaining mixture, and dry them with a soft cloth. The resulting Eggs will be an attractive silvery-blue in colour, with darker blue mottling. Likewise, the creatures summoned will have blue-tinted skins, pelts or feathers. It is recommended that these Eggs be wrapped separately in sheep's wool and kept in a padded case for safe-keeping until used.
[Game details: When one of Cardew's Cerulean Eggs is thrown
and broken open, roll 1d6. The result determines which
creature is summoned, as follows]:
Variations on a Theme:
Of course, the above examples are mere drops in the Sea of Dread when one considers the many types of Eggs of Wonder there may be. In my researches I have heard rumours of many strange and unique variations on the theme, such as reusable Eggs, egg-shaped relics which grant wishes, or even metallic Eggs laid by a magical goose! Since I was unable to verify the truth or falsehood behind any of these stories, however, I shall treat them as just that - stories - and focus my attention on the few variants I have seen with my own eyes. These are listed below:
This item, originally called the Egg of Opposition, obtained its current name from the first sapient to face its power. It is tiny - no larger than a thrush's egg - and matte black in colour. Before throwing it, dropping it or manually cracking it open, the user must tell the Egg who or what its target is, either by name or by saying "the creature I look at now". When the Egg is shattered, the creature that emerges is one suitable for combating the chosen foe - for example, a winged opponent might face a wyvern or giant eagle, while a seafaring foe could be attacked by a shark or giant octopus.
Whatever its form, the Nemesis will have HD equal to its target. The Nemesis vanishes either when slain, when its primary target dies, or when 1 Turn passes. Each Egg of the Nemesis can be used only once; they are normally found in batches of two or three.
If an Egg of Similarity hits a creature with Anti-Magic - and if the Anti-Magic succeeds - the Egg merely shatters messily, its magic negated. Eggs of Similarity are usually found singly, or occasionally in pairs.
These Eggs must be thrown to the ground to be effective,
exploding into purple gas when they shatter. all those
within a 5' radius of the blast must make a Save vs. Spells
or be transformed randomly - along with all clothing,
weapons and equipment carried - into one of the following
forms [roll 1d8 for each affected person]:
Niccolo's Eggs come in three broad groupings - offensive, defensive, and miscellaneous - each of which covers three levels of spell use; the commonest (called Type 1, for convenience) produce magic of levels 1-3, the next (Type 2) create effects of levels 4-6, while only the very rarest (Type 3) cast spells of levels 7-9. Examples of each type and grouping are shown below:
|Type 1||Type 2||Type 3|
|Magic Missile||Confusion||Reverse Gravity|
|Entangle||Feeblemind||Power Word Blind|
|Fireball||Death Spell||Meteor Swarm|
|Dispel Magic||Stone to Flesh||Maze|
|Type 1||Type 2||Type 3|
|Prot. From Evil||Wall of Fire||Mass Invisibility|
|Mirror Image||Telekinesis||Mind Barrier|
|Prot. from Normal Missiles||Anti-Magic Shell||Timestop|
|Haste||Projected Image||Prismatic Wall|
|Type 1||Type 2||Type 3|
|Floating Disk||Wizard Eye||Lore|
|Read Languages||Clothform||Teleport Any Object|
|Detect Evil||Dissolve||Create Magical Monsters|
|Levitate||Contact Outer Plane||Travel|
|Note: All spells are cast at their lowest possible level; for instance, Magic Missile will produce one missile, while Fireball does 5d6 hp damage.|
Some of these effects require further elaboration. All spell effects have their normal (minimum) duration. Offensive Eggs are almost always thrown at an enemy, and either have area effects (i.e., Fireball, Cloudkill, etc.) or targeted effects, which damage the nearest foe when released. Defensive or miscellaneous Eggs may be dropped near the caster or thrown at friends and allies, and affect the nearest person, unless area-effect spells are released; if the spell requires direction, the affected person knows what power is gained immediately, and can use it appropriately. Normal Saving Throws apply in all cases. Even the most common of Niccolo's Eggs are rarely found as treasure. Type 1 Eggs will appear in batches of 4-6, Type 2 in groups of 1-3, and Type 3 - if available - are only ever found singly. The spell-type among these "clutches" vary randomly for each Egg - a typical Type 1 clutch might include two offensive, one defensive, and two miscellaneous Eggs. Expensive magical research will be required to find out the powers of each Egg in a discovered clutch, although the user can always simply take pot luck and just use the Eggs blindly - but this practice is hazardous at best; at worst, it can be fatal.
I have barely touched upon the variations possible for these simple, yet remarkable items; a truly comprehensive coverage would require a tome of considerable thickness, which I have not the resources to complete here aboard the Nancy. Perhaps, at a later time, I may examine the more esoteric examples of the Egg-craft. But for now, I must sign off; the light dims on the Dawn Sea, and I shall take dinner with Sarabine in her quarters...
Copyright (c) 2000, Carl Quaif. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Special thanks to Jennifer Guerra.