|illustration by Greg Gorgonmilk|
The Reverse-Mask of the Jale God
This unique artifact is said to be a perfect reverse cast of the face of the Jale God's most-used human avatar from a lost aeon. Various rumors conflate the origin and powers of the Mask, but one thing the stories all agree on: the Mask warps the wearer's mind in unpredictable ways.
1. The Jale God so loved his human avatar that when she died, he captured her face to adorn the wall in his innermost bedchamber, where it is said she spent her last days attended by the Jale God's retinue. The Jale God is said to have only done this twice before.
2. Once, the Jale God ruled a kingdom now lost to memory. Drunk on lime wine, he allowed a sculptor to mold his face to create a bronze cast to adorn his throne room. When presented with the finished cast, he so despised it that he had the sculptor burned alive in a furnace with the bronze mask strapped to his face. When the ashes cooled, all that remained was the Reverse Mask.
3. After the fall of the Cerisian Empire, the Eidolons of Fear and Hate were lost for a generation. A poor farmer's son discovered them in a small cave in a forest glade when he was out gathering wood. When the boy held both Eidolons in his hands, their power pulsed and corrupted his flesh. Taking the Eidolons, he fled his village and took refuge in a temple of the Jale God and after many years became the chief priest of that sect. When the priest died, it is said that the Jale God himself visited his funeral pyre to kiss his beloved's face, which instantly crumbled to reveal the Reverse Mask. The Jale God took the Eidolons when he returned to the Ethereal Realm.
4. The Jale God once wore the skin of a condemned man turned inside out to a masquerade ball. When the dance was over, he discarded his costume in pursuit of his latest paramour. A rag-and-bone man collected the skin, which he divided into sections with a rusty shear: Mask, Torso, and Limbs. When the ragpicker was done with his cutting, the shears turned silver and his hands were necrotic. He sold the Mask to an alchemist for a pittance; what became of the Torso and Limbs has been lost to time. The alchemist, recognizing the power of the Reverse Mask, locked it away in a warded chest. Years later, the alchemist burned down his shop during an experiment with powdered atacorn horn and when sifting through the ashes discovered the chest was gone.
5. Long ago, the Jale God argued with a cockroach over the best way to moult. The Jale God felt it was more beneficial to flex and burst, whilst the cockroach believed it was best to turn a carapace inside-out, like a serpent. The two challenged each other to try the other's method. The Jale God went first, peeling off his skin as if removing a jerkin. The cockroach grabbed the discarded skin and scurried away. The Jale God laughed and cursed the cockroach and all his descendants to moult by bursting until the end of days. The cockroach mounted the Jale God's skin in his burrow, portioning out a section of the skin to each successive generation as a reminder of the curse. Eventually, nothing was left but the Mask, which was discovered by a bug collector in a recent era.
6. A prince once persuaded the Jale God's avatar to serve as his royal mistress while the queen attempted to find a bride for the prince that would result in a favorable political alliance. For three years the queen tried to make such an alliance, but the Jale God interfered in each negotiation to ensure his avatar's continued favor. Eventually the queen, thinking her son too enamored with the mistress to commit to marriage, decreed that the mistress be beheaded at the next day's dawning. When the axe cut the mistress's head from her body, she did not die; her head kept talking and blinking and proclaiming her love for the prince. The queen, repulsed, demanded the head be burned at the stake, over the prince's protests. But the flames did not stop the mistress's entreaties and the prince, leaping from his parapet, rescued his lover's head from the flames and fled the castle and was never heard from again. Years later, a traveller discovered the remains of an old hermit and the preserved head in a small cabin in the woods; the skin on the head crumpled when he touched it, revealing the Reverse Mask, which leapt up and adhered itself to his face. The traveller went mad and when he drowned a few weeks later the Mask was lost in murky waters.
1. The Mask grants the wearer the ability to peer into the Ethereal Realm and spy on a single random godling. There is a 25% chance the godling notices the intrusion and confronts the PC. The wearer must make a Save vs. Spells or become permanently plagued with an hour-long vision lag: they see what other PCs see an hour after they see it.
2. The wearer gains 4 random Vivimancer spells and are able to cast these spells for 1d12 days before their body begins to rot and fall apart in large chunks of necrotic flesh. When they are reduced to a state similar to an animated skeleton, their body tissues slowly grow back -- but major organs randomly shift locations (the stomach may be where the colon was, the liver may have shifted to the braincase, etc.). The PC must make a Save vs. Disease or be permanently brain damaged by this process, losing half their INT but gaining the ability to read the mind of any lesser intelligent humanoid at will.
3. The PC must make a Save vs. Death Ray or suffer a severe system shock that reduces all stats to 3 but grants the PC the ability to shift planes at will, taking up to 3 other PCs along for the ride as long as they remain in skin-to-skin contact. The PC is reduced to black and white vision and can only speak in Goblin. This effect lasts 3d6 weeks.
4. For 1d6 days, the PC gains clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, and the ability to speak with the dead who have died within three hours. The PC's head shrinks to half its normal size and their eyes turn completely black, grey, or radiant purple, and they sprout 3 3-point antlers. If the antlers are shorn and ground into powder, anyone who inhales this mixture will gain the ability to see across planes for 1d12 hours; however, this snuff is highly mentally corrosive and results in a permanent –5 to CON and –3 to WIS. The user must make a Save vs. Disease or suffer the loss of all known languages, including the Common tongue.
5. The wearer gains the ability to see through the eyes of the Jale God for 2 minutes. They must make a Save vs. Spells or go completely and irrevocably insane, reduced to (metaphorically) a quivering puddle of mortal jellyflesh incapable of logical, reasonable thought and action. If the Save is successful, there is a 25% chance the PC becomes the Jale God's new human avatar for this age.
6. The Reverse Mask grants the wearer astral projection; however, when their spirit is out of their body, the spirit of a giant hermit crab takes over their flesh and will not vacate for 1d6 days.
7. Any biological cast-off from the wearer's body becomes a 1HD creature (hair, urine, skin flakes, spit, blood, etc.). These beings obey the wearer for 1d6 hours (roll for each creature) before turning on the wearer and attempting to re-merge by invading any available orifice. The wearer must make a Save vs. Disease for each attempt at re-merging. Failure results in –1 to STR for each creature that successfully merges. STR can only be recovered by 3 hours of continuous, uninterrupted sleep for each creature that merged.
8. The PC sees every living creature without its skin and gains the ability to see through all illusions. They must make a Save vs. Spells or suffer –3 to INT for 1d6 days, at the end of which time the effect becomes permanent and their INT recovers.
The Mask itself is made of rigid human veins and arteries which visibly pulse with fresh blood of no known origin. Anyone who wears the mask must make a Save vs. Insanity or have their Intelligence permanently reduced in half (this penalty stacks).
Once the power of the Reverse-Mask is triggered, it collapses into a fine black dust and will not appear in the mortal realm again for 100 years.