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Old Screeds

A New Magical Musical Item for D&D and Pathfinder, from my New 3E D&D Bard Splat Book.

cover image of Cayzle's Little Splat Book of Bards in 3E Dungeons and Dragons
Click above to download the FREE PDF of my analysis of and new options for Bards in Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons!
I've been pondering bard options for many years, and recently I was thinking about magical musical instruments. Well, okay, if you call a year and a half "recent." That was a blog post that looked at all the magical musical instruments in the core rules and graded them. Then, when I was working on my forthcoming bard splat book, I decided that the game needed some new ones.

I looked around for for inspiration, and the famous Edgar Allen Poe poem, "The Bells," came to mind. My father was famous in my family for reading that poem, which he did with great drama. "The bells, bells, bells, bells, bells bells, bells. The moaning and the groaning of the bells." The poem focuses on four bells, silver, gold, brass, and iron. Inspired by that, I've made four versions of the magic item. It is a wonderful poem, and I urge you to go and read it. Or just as good, have it read to you. Here's a decent version from YouTube:

Bells of Tintinnabulation

Aura: see below; CL: 5th; Slot: --; Price: 5,000 gp; Weight: 1 lb.
Description: This magical bell comes in four varieties, one for each major alignment. Each is activated once per day as a standard action with a DC13 Perform (Percussion) skill check; a failed check still counts as a daily use. If you have the same alignment as the bell, then you can activate the bell three times per day. Although the effect varies, the duration is the same for all: 1d4 minutes. When activating the item, a bard can extend the duration by spending rounds of bardic performance, one minute of extra duration for each round spent. Even stowed away, the bell continues to sound for the entire duration, making stealth impossible for the ringer; the ringing and the magical effect ends if the bell is dropped, given away, or stowed in an extradimensional space.

  • A Silver Bell (Chaotic Good) grants a +1 morale bonus to all saves, attacks, and skill checks for you and your allies within 25 ft. Faint enchantment/charm; bless or heroism; creator must be chaotic good.
  • A Golden Bell (Lawful Good) creates an effect as if you had cast Shield Other on an ally within 25 ft. If the ally is your lawful spouse, the bonus to AC and saves rises from +1 to +3. Faint abjuration; shield other; creator must be lawful good.
  • A Brass Bell (Lawful Evil) imposes the shaken effect on all enemies within 25 feet who fail a Will saving throw equal to the activation Perform check. Faint necromancy; cause fear; creator must be lawful evil.
  • An Iron Bell (Chaotic Evil) causes a fresh humanoid corpse that you touch (less than 24 hours dead, with head and extremities intact) to rise as a ghoul that serves for 1d4 minutes at your command; thereafter the animating magic ends. Faint necromancy; animate dead; creator must be chaotic evil.

Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item feat, required alignment and spell as noted above. Cost: 2,500 gp.

Design Notes: My goal here was to make an item that would actually be useful. Too often, the magical musical instruments in the Core rules are either too useless, too expensive, or both. I also wanted to reward users who are bards, and those who put ranks into Perform skills. I hope to hear from playtesters if the pricing is okay. I figure, a slotless item, replicating something like a second level spell, activated once per day, should cost about 2,000 gp x 2 x 5 x 2 x 1/5 = 8,000 gp. Consider that the power is more CL3, plus the short and random duration, add a little for the extra bard uses, take a little off for making these bells aligned, and the 5,000 is about right? Feedback welcome!

Home | This page was created on 25 March 2018 and last modified 19 April 2018