Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Abacus of St. John the Enumerator

I was inspired reading Grognardia today, and decided to make up a relic.

St. John the Enumerator was a blessed clark and keeper of accounts for the holy church of Nomo. After extended service, in which he kept the church's accounts afloat even through the years of Pontiff Palaithian the Decadent. For his ability to keep the church in the black, he was named a saint and his abacus was declared a relic of the church.

If only they knew how John kept the church afloat, the deals he made and the price he and others had to pay.

The Abacus of St. John the Enumerator
The abacus is a simple instrument made of oak, copper shafts and glass beads. In the moonlight, a careful observer can make out tiny motes of dancing light within the beads. Within each bead is locked the soul of a young priest of the church, an innocent true believer murdered by John's own hand and interred in the ossuaries in the catacombs beneath Nomo's streets, never to be discovered.

The abacus has ten rows divided into two sections. The larger section held five beads on each row, the smaller section held two beads. All of the beads are no longer remaining on the abacus.

The abacus projects a protection from evil, 10' radius effect that, unfortunately, in ineffective of any evil creature summoned by or connected with the abacus. It also creates a sanctuary effect in whatever building it is placed in, an effect which is also ineffective against evil creatures summoned by or connected with the abacus. Because of these effects, the abacus is believed to be a holy relic rather than an unholy one.


By touching a bead in the larger section and focusing on a person, their current whereabouts appear in the toucher's mind, per a crystal ball. If the person harbors ill feelings toward the person they are viewing, one of the following effects occurs, even if the user of the abacus does not knowingly will it to occur. The toucher of the abacus must make their own saving throw or one of the following effects occurs:

1. Lose one level or hit dice
2. Lose 1d4 points of charisma; in essence, they are disfigured
3. Lose 1d4 points of wisdom; in essence, they are driven slightly mad
4. Lose 1d4 points of constitution; in essence, they begin wasting away
5. The remains of the victim whose soul is encased in the bead is animated as a spectre and seeks the toucher out to destroy them.
6. They are affected by the bead's curse instead of the toucher's target

If any of these effects kill the person, a pit fiend appears in a cloud of sulfur and blue fire and collects their body and soul.

Lust: The target is struck as though by a suggestion spell with no saving throw. They feel the same lust towards the toucher of the abacus and must go to them that night to consummate their feelings. Once the act is consummated, this lust turns to repulsion.

Jealousy: The target's ability score most tied to the object of jealousy is lowered by 1d4 points and those points are transferred to the toucher of the abacus. The feelings of jealousy are now transferred to the target in relation to the toucher.

Hate: The target is struck with mummy rot. As they slowly rot and die, the toucher is himself struck by a discoloration of the skin, which first turns yellowish, then mottled black and purple and finally a deathly white. When the person finally dies, the toucher returns to normal, but loses the ability to love or be loved.

The beads can also be used in another way. Touching a bead, it can be used to cast a cleric spell of a level equal to the row number minus one. In other words, beads in row one can be used to cast 0-level orisons, while beads in row 10 can be used to cast 9th level spells. When this is done, the bead turns to dust and the soul is released from it with a terrible shriek. The soul then returns to its remains in the catacombs and animates them as a spectre to hunt down the user of the bead. Spells cast from these beads impose a -5 penalty to saving throws made against them.

A lawful cleric using the abacus cannot remain lawful. With the first use, they become neutral, and with the second chaotic. A third use consigns their soul to Mammon, the arch-devil patron who helped John keep the church afloat all those years.

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