A gem with many hidden powers
In our fourth instalment, we feature Tesmar’s Baguette, a gem with many hidden powers.
Tesmar the Skald is a name bandied about the Iddulf Holds with unequal parts of admiration, disdain, contempt, and no little amusement. Less than a quarter-century ago, Tesmar was the most popular minstrel in the Holds, well received for her beautiful composition, evocative verse, and charming wit. Entertaining the thanes throughout the Holds, Tesmar earned an abundant living as a great performer and sometime spy.
While the Baguette’s origin is unknown, Tesmar used the gem to great effect whilst within the halls of her host nobility. Indeed, the jewel magnified her already considerable skills, and her consequential talent at espionage allowed her to amass a treasury that approached that of her employers. Unfortunately, her success cultivated no little envy among her rivals, who were quick to ascertain the means by which she had obtained her riches. It was not long before Tesmar’s welcome in any hall was refused, and the ranks of her supporters thinned. Some thanes, desirous to keep the secrets of their houses intact, formulated a stop to her continued intrigues.
As recently as five winters past, Tesmar was induced by the Thane of Rorogulf to assess the strength of Duram Hold, whose shore-wards, only miles away, threatened Rorogulf’s security. Unknown to all, however, Rorogulf and Duram had already established friendly terms and, as a token of his solidarity, Rorogulf promised to deliver Tesmar to his erstwhile rival. The skald, wary of the commission, but unaware of the conspiracy, fell for the ruse.Upon her arrival at Duram, where she planned to winter, Tesmar was apprehended and imprisoned. Charged with espionage, Tesmar was to be tried at the spring Holdmote. Confident that the rogue had been securely trapped, Duram was satisfied with his dungeon-geld. It is an understatement to describe Duram’s mood as merely enraged, when at winter’s terminus he discovered that his snow-prise had escaped.
Duram accused Rorogulf of freeing the rogue to be used in later plots against him. In turn, Rorogulf accused Duram of fabricating the escape of his “token of solidarity” to cause discord and mistrust amongst Rorogulf’s other allies. Most believe, simply, that Tesmar escaped with the aid of her own supporters, through bribes to her jailers, and, of course, the powers of her Baguette. Regardless, it is considered no little irony that, after Tesmar’s egress, the flowering treaty between Duram and Rorogulf wilted, leading to an unenforceable and discordant accord that today amounts to tepid fighting between both sides with no territorial gain and much animosity. The fate and present whereabouts of Tesmar remain unconfirmed. Somewhat of a folk hero amongst the thralls of the Holds, who enjoy pointing out the folly of their ostentatious thanes, Tesmar is suspected to live still, continuing to practice her art in other lands.
Appearance and Powers
Tesmar’s Baguette is, in normal form, a 1/4″ oblong diamond of “Fairly good” quality (RC/226). Given the proper command word(s), the gem transforms into one of several pieces of jewelry, each of which features the Baguette prominently and provides its wearer with certain magical powers. Each transformation consumes a single turn and a number of charges; the current form remains indefinitely until changed. The Baguette has 3-13 (2d6+1) charges, and the jewellery forms are:
- Diamond (0 charges): The Baguette grants +5% to all thief special abilities (RC/22).
- Anklet (1 charge): Increases movement by 30′ (10′), regardless of actual encumbrance.
- Armband (2 charges): Provides a “to-hit” bonus of +1 to any class.
- Bracelet (3 charges): Improves an existing thief’s Backstabbing ability (RC/23) by +2 “to-hit” and triple damage.
- Broach (2 charges): Confers a +1 AC bonus to any class.
- Earring (1 charge): Grants Hear Noise ability (RC/22) as 1st-level thief; if wearer is already a thief, improves Hear Noise ability by one experience level.
- Monocle (1 charge): Grants Find Traps ability (RC/22) as 1st-level thief; if the wearer is already a thief, improves Find Traps ability by one experience level.
- Necklace (1 charge): Grants Move Silently and Hide in Shadows abilities (RC/22) as 1st-level thief; if the wearer is a thief, improves these abilities by one experience level.
- Ring (1 charge): Grants Open Locks and Remove Traps abilities (RC/22) as 1st-level thief; if the wearer is a thief, improves these abilities by one experience level.
Tesmar’s Baguette may inspire any of the following adventures:
- Tesmar is encountered by the PCs and joins the party as an ally or spy, depending on the PCs’ disposition and current mission (and DM’s desire). Tesmar should be a Neutral thief of at least name-level. She may possess the Baguette and use it surreptitiously for the benefit (and possible amazement) of the PCs. If the Baguette is lost to her, Tesmar seeks to reclaim it (assuredly with the unknowing aid of the party).
- The PCs find the Baguette, in one of its many forms, within some trove (perhaps within the Iddulf Holds), and a lucky PC thief learns of its significant powers. Word of the Baguette’s use somehow reaches Tesmar, who arrives at some inopportune time to reclaim it. Alternatively, the Baguette becomes the target of desire for not only Tesmar, but also at least two rival thieves’ guilds, a thane of Iddulf (ideally Rorogulf or Duram, or both), and a sect of anti-thief clerics bent on the gem’s destruction.
- A quest to recharge the Baguette is launched. Assuming it’s possible, revitalising the gem proves difficult, requiring both mundane ingredients (the blessing of a jeweller-become-cleric, the oil of a stout lock, and the sweat of a thief) and esoteric components (the footfall of a silent rogue, a drop of shadow, and the distilled pain of a backstabbed victim). The final requirement is a Stoneform spell (RC/54) cast from a scroll by a Neutral thief of 12th-level or higher. The ritual charges the Baguette to its maximum potency of 25 charges, though the entire process is certain to catch the attention of many covetous eyes. . .
- Tesmar was freed (or slain) by Rorogulf or Duram for political gain, though the Baguette was lost in the process. One (or both) of the thanes entreat the PCs to retrieve a certain, oblong diamond, about a quarter-inch long. The PCs are promised all manner of rewards upon the gem’s return—whether such offers are genuine is up to the DM.
- The origin of the Baguette is some Immortal of Thought, who decides that the gem’s time on the Prime Plane has ended. To be effective, this hook assumes that the Baguette has been in play for some time, and that its absence will affect the PCs in some manner. Alternately, the Baguette is actually an artefact of the Sphere of Entropy, and its destruction is sought by an Epic Hero (RC/223) questing for Immortality (perhaps, ironically, a high-level Tesmar herself.