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Orbs of Dragonkind (Major Artifact)
Aura strong enchantment; CL 20th; Slot none; Weight 5 lbs.
Color shimmers within the smoky depths of this perfect crystalline sphere. Both the scintillating shade and emanations of an indefinable power suggest the breathing of a drowsing dragon.
Each of these fabled orbs contains the essence and personality of an ancient dragon of a different variety. The bearer of an orb can, as a standard action, dominate dragons of the orb’s particular variety within 500 feet (as dominate monster), with the targeted dragon being forced to make a successful DC 25 Will save to resist. Spell resistance is not useful against this effect. Each Orb of Dragonkind bestows upon the wielder the AC and saving throw bonuses of the dragon within. These values replace whatever values the character would otherwise have, whether they are better or worse. These values cannot be modified by any means short of depriving the character of the orb. A character possessing an Orb of Dragonkind is immune to the breath weapon—but only the breath weapon—of the dragon variety keyed to the orb. Finally, a character possessing an orb can use the breath weapon of the dragon in the orb three times per day.
All Orbs of Dragonkind can be used to communicate verbally and visually with the possessors of the other orbs. The owner of an orb knows whether there are dragons within 10 miles at all times. For dragons of the orb’s particular variety, the range is 100 miles. If within 1 mile of a dragon of the orb’s variety, the wielder can determine the dragon’s exact location and age. The bearer of one of these orbs earns the enmity of dragonkind forever for profiting from draconic enslavement, even if she later loses the item. Each orb also has an individual power that can be invoked once per round at caster level 10th.
Alternate Means of Destruction
The method of shattering an Orb of Dragonkind has been passed down by scholars across worlds for eons, but this is not the only way one of these ancient artifacts might be destroyed.
Tools of the Dragon Lords: Congregations of the dragon lords have sought out Orbs of Dragonkind, as well as methods of destroying those orbs dangerous to their allied dragons. Both groups claim their lords possess devices capable of smashing these artifacts.
Ways of the Water Lord: An entity known as the self-proclaimed Father of Dragons, claims to know a thousand ways to destroy an Orb of Dragonkind. Among these methods are to bury it under the exact weight of every coin every dragon has ever hoarded, for a kobold to trick it into believing it has lost its powers, or to crush it in the jaws of a great wyrm who never hatched.
Some tales tell of Orbs of Dragonkind with the power to control true dragons other than chromatic and metallic dragons. Should these artifacts exist, they would have the same properties as Orbs of Dragonkind, but with alternate powers linked to the dragons over which they hold power. The following are the abilities linked to imperial and primal dragons.
An Orb of Dragonkind immediately shatters if it is caught in the breath weapon of a dragon who is a blood relative of the dragon trapped within. This causes everyone within 90 feet to be struck by the breath weapon of the trapped dragon as the orb explodes.
Certain knowledge exists in a state beyond time, distance, and the minds that struggle to possess it. The Orbs of Dragonkind number among such timeless mysteries, spoken of through the ages and across empires and planes as things of wonder and devastation, physical legends to be pursued or destroyed for the world-shaking power they possess.
Immortal historians among Heaven’s Great Library trace the genesis of the orbs to the myth-shrouded history of dragonkind and a chaotic mother deity no dragon willingly names. Although the lines between truth and legend blur, fragments of epics claim the first orbs appeared in the aftermath of the great war that marks the beginning of time and existence for dragons. As her son and her partner battled and the kaleidoscopic mortal beings created in their images slaughtered one another, the chaotic queen, Tiamat, shed 10 tears. Through the ethers these tears fell, crystallizing the goddess’s will, and each landing upon the fallen form of a different draconic hero. The souls of these dragons entered the tears, bestowing each with the power of and undeniable authority over its kin.
Soon after, all of these perfect spheres, glistening with the varied hues of draconic paragons, were claimed by lesser dragons. Some were collected into hoards, and others fueled the conquests of draconic tyrants, but all were objects over which dragon killed dragon. Ultimately, journeying across endless planes and nameless worlds, the orbs followed and continued to sow conflict. Today the orbs persist as they have since the infancy of dragonkind, embodiments of the will of the near-forgotten dragon mother, the talons of clawed hands reaching through eons to manipulate and dominate dragonkind toward unfathomable ends.
Those who would bear an Orb of Dragonkind should consider the following.
- Dragon Hatred: Few dragons view the Orbs of Dragonkind as anything other than a weapon: a way to enslave them and their brethren, and a chink in even the best prepared dragon’s defenses. When a dragon raises an orb against her brethren—even those of opposed breeds—it is betrayal, and for a lesser creature to control of an Orb of Dragonkind is an abomination. Dragons will not stand for a non-dragon possessing one of the orbs, and their reaction to such an occurrence varies from demands to brutal attacks, depending on the breed of dragon taking action.
- Eyes of the Dragons: The bearer of an Orb of Dragonkind can communicate verbally and visually with those who possess the other orbs. While several of these objects are locked away in absolute darkness, giving no hint as to their location or owners, such is not the case with all of them. Multiple orbs rest in the clutches of good and evil dragons, powerful individuals who guard their wards against abuse and purposefully monitor the other orbs for disruptive new bearers or discovery by non-dragons. Those who claim an Orb of Dragonkind must prove especially careful lest they reveal themselves and their locations to the mighty and cunning bearers of the other orbs. (The methods of communication an Orb of Dragonkind employs are vague and thus left to GMs to define. At the very least, these abilities should mimic the effects of greater scrying with the other orb being concentrated upon serving as the scrying sensor.)
- The Slumbering Masters: Every Orb of Dragonkind possesses the essence and personality of an ancient dragon paragon, yet accounts differ as to what extent these dragon spirits are aware and willing to interact with an orb’s bearer. One theory posits that the essences within regularly slumber, entering ages-long torpors as bearers who disinterest them or don’t share their philosophies make use of their powers. The orbs function as described while in the hands of such bearers, but are little more than potent tools. When a more worthy bearer claims an Orb of Dragonkind, though, or one proves his worth through use of the artifact, it’s possible the dragon within the orb makes itself known. Typically, only dragons of the same breed of the dragon whose essence inspires the orb—and even then usually only direct descendants of that dragon—cause the spirit within to awake. However, other creatures of singular worthiness or those imploring an orb in a time of world-shaking need might also awaken the spirit within. These ancient dragon personalities bring with them powers of potent intelligent items, but also possess overwhelming egos. One who awakens an orb’s personality should be exceptionally wary, for unless his agenda coincides with that of the orb, he might find himself slave to the orb’s ageless will.
Lesser Orbs of Dragonkind
The Orbs of Dragonkind number among the most legendary of all artifacts, spanning not just the lore of different cultures but the epics of distant worlds and far-flung planes. Yet the number of these reports openly defies the existence of a mere 10 Orbs of Dragonkind. Such conflicting tales likely arise from the existence of lesser variants, potent creations with appearances and powers similar to the true orbs, but more limited despite their greater number and variety. Thus, many who seek the Orbs of Dragonkind unwittingly discover one of the following.
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