This is a magic item I thought up for a contest for Legend of the Flame Princess. I didn’t win. Which I was kind of expecting given the quality of responses a general crowd-sourcing call gets in that part of the web. The old-school blogs I follow have pretty creative readers. I, however, thought that I would at least be the only person to use the word/item Torc. It is hardly in common usage after all. Nope, another guy used it as well. Ah, the fleeting sense of uniqueness passes so quickly.
Anyway I thought I came up with a exotic and somewhat gruesome magic item. In my opinion it is a great hook for future adventures and a great character hook. Really spells out what a adventurer will do for extra abilities. Very few characters are missing a tongue (might need to write up that critical hit table) so if this item is found the decision whether to slice out their own tongue will come up. A good gamemaster will play up the gruesomeness and gore of taking a dull rusted blade to do the deed.
Also the chance that each tongue might start saying words other then what the character is intended is a wonderful hook for the gamemaster. Will the trapped soul ask for release? Will it try to deceive the rest of the party? Will it say exactly what the character wants until they are in the middle of a tense negotiation before breaking out into blasphemous chanting and song? The possibilities are endless.
The torc also illustrates what I believe is important for magical items. It isn’t too powerful to be given out as the first treasure a character finds and on the flip side is useful enough that a character might keep it for their entire adventuring career. The lack of stats/mechanics/bonuses helps with this. That could just be to keep the item system neutral, not specifically a power level thing. My opinion is the best way to keep magical items interesting is to make each one enough to base an entire character around. Which means that every magic item should be possible to find as the character’s very first piece of loot and helping define that character from that point on.
Torc of Tongues
Nobody knows how many of these torcs are around, most people who discover the truth behind them hope that the answer is ‘not many’. Wound around the the torc are 2d6 still living tongues of various species. The tongues are constantly moving and shifting when worn, writhing against the bare skin of the person wearing the torc.
If the person wearing the torc has lost his tongue (or had it cut out) he can take one of the tongues on the torc and put it in their mouth. It bonds to where they used to have a tongue and allows them to speak with the same creatures that the tongue came from. Depending on the tongue, they may also be able to speak in any languages they knew before as well. While wearing the necklace the tongues that come from it can be removed and put back onto the necklace and another one may be chosen.
If the necklace is removed the bonded tongue is permanently joined as the person’s own tongue and is no longer part of the necklace. Also, there is a chance (10%) that each time a tongue is bonded to the torc’s wearer the trapped spirit of the creature takes control and the tongue will say whatever the tormented soul wishes instead of the speaker.