Helm Of The Paleoarchs

Helm Of The Paleoarchs

Life is ancient beyond easy understanding. Before the eldest elves walked the forests, before the great ancestors of the dwarves tunneled deep, before any god any sane being can name had been formed from the swirling protodivine energies of the outer planes, beings lived, thought, and died upon the uncounted material worlds. On occasion, some record of their existence remains…

The Paleoarchs, the “ancient kings”, lived at a time when nothing could live on land, when the surface of the world was a hellish waste. In the great depths, in cities so lost and ancient that not even the sahuagin imagine they existed, dwelled creatures of an utterly alien nature. Little is known of them except what might be inferred from the handful of relics recovered. Such items are found preserved in volcanic rock or layers of sediment from the earliest days of the world, exposed after untold epochs to those who dwell now upon the planet and consider themselves its true inhabitants.

One such item, coveted and feared in equal proportion, is the Helm of the Paleoarchs.

The Helm Of The Paleoarchs

The Helm Of The Paleoarchs

Resembling the desiccated, yet brilliantly polished (no matter how long it lay buried in its prison of stone), exoskeleton of some insect, it is roughly the size of a humanoid skull, and can be used by any creature of small size and up. The underside of the Helm is lined with dozens of segmented tendrils, much like legs, each terminating in a burst of fine cilia. When held by a living being, it feels oddly warm, and the under-legs wriggle slightly. The holder will hear odd sounds, whispers and muttering, and may have momentary glimpses of scenes not easily described or recalled… great cities of unknown shape, formed from gargantuan, partially living, nautiloids and orthocones…. figures like segmented worms standing on their tails, manipulating incomprehensible tools with a half dozen chitinous limbs.

When the helm of the paleoarchs is worn, the writhing under-limbs instantly and irrevocably drill into the skull until they reach the brain, whereupon they explode into thousands of nerve-like fibers that weave throughout the consciousness of the wearer. The effects of donning a helm of the paleoarchs are as follows:

  • Thoughts Beyond Human Understanding: +4 enhancement bonus to intelligence, -4 penalty to charisma. The wearer’s thought processes are much faster and sharper, but their ability to relate to others is severely diminished.
  • Mind Beyond Mortal Control: Whenever the wearer must save against a mind-affecting effect, or an illusion, they may roll twice and take the higher roll.
  • Access The Ancient Library: The wearer is considered trained in all Knowledge skills, but does not gain a bonus. This allows them to make checks against a DC higher than 10 for skills they do not have ranks in.
  • Hidden From The Young World: The wearer is considered to be under nondetection (DC 21 to overcome) at all times. Anyone failing to penetrate the shield must make a DC 21 will save or take 1d4 points of Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma damage. (Roll each independently.)
  • Plumb The Secrets Of Creation: The wearer may, as an immediate action, choose to take 1 point of Wisdom drain and gain the knowledge of any spell they are capable of casting (on their class spell list for their level). The spell replaces a prepared spell of the same level in the caster’s mind. Spells with an expendable material component will not function without that component.

The wearer will never voluntarily seek to remove the helm. If it is involuntarily removed, the wearer will suffer 3d6 points of normal damage and 2d4 points of Intelligence damage as the tendrils are violently ripped out of their skull, taking a goodly amount of grey matter with them. (Outside of combat, a DC 10 Strength check is needed to remove the helm; during combat, a successful disarm maneuver must be performed, bare-handed.)

Aura strong transmutation; CL 11th
Slot head; Price 89,000 gp; Weight 3 lbs.

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One Response to Helm Of The Paleoarchs

  1. Interesting concept!

    It seems a bit overpriced, though. That Access the Ancient Library effect? Looks a lot inferior to the old trick of building a dozen +2 Int Headbands each coded for a different knowledge skill, and taking 24 hours to wear the attuned headband and getting 1 rank per class level. For any knowledge-based class, you really want the ability to hot-swap your permanent-enhancement-bonus-granted ranks.

    The Nondetection is neat, but the defensive effect looks like it loses out when, e.g., the party needs to sneak into someplace where someone’s putting them through a basic suite of Detect spells, and they want to get through without incident.

    And the spell-knowledge-gaining is powerful, but limited; as written, it looks like it only works for wizards and other prepared-spell-based casters.

    Maybe you could tie these effects together. That is to say, you can, during a rest period, access the knowledge in the helm to shuffle your 2 sets of bonus skill ranks from the Int bonus to any knowledge skills of your choice (a few ranks in everything, full ranks in two, or whatever). You could also make Plumb the Secrets of Creation essentially a fast Spell Retraining from the retraining rules.

    Finally, you should include the proviso that the helm doesn’t work on people who don’t use their brains to think, such as liches and the like. And “Won’t voluntarily remove” is also a bit wonky. How about “Has an Ego of 25, but only makes checks to prevent its removal, nullification, or destruction, and dumps control back to its user as soon as the threat has passed.”? Without that, it’s way too easy for a wizard to say “I would never remove this helm! I would, however, cast Antimagic Field, hand this adamantine warhammer to my barbarian buddy, get confirmation from my cleric buddy that he’s memorized Restoration today, then waggle my eyebrows suggestively.”

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