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Haunted Items: Pocket Astrolabe

Haunted Items: Pocket Astrolabe

Haunted items are magical curios inhabited by a soul, typically the soul of their former owner or someone with a close connection to the item.

The soul has its own thoughts and motivations, and often unfinished business keeps them tethered to the item.

The soul may communicate with the item’s new owner, empathically, telepathically, or as a manifestation, and may even demand the new owner complete a quest.

Characters who help a spirit achieve their goals might lay the spirit to rest, and perhaps increase the power of the haunted item in the process!

Check out other haunted items in the series!

Karina DeTerlizzi/Pocket Astrolabe

Wondrous Item, Legendary

Karina DeTerlizzi was a student of the arcane, focusing on how the Material Plane interacted with other realms of existence. While in school, Karina met Marlyn Ghalina, another brilliant student also intent on discovering the secrets of the planes.

The two became fierce rivals. But after years of competition, they finally realized that their greatest breakthroughs would be made by working together rather than against each other.

After graduation, the two purchased a crumbling old wizard’s tower in which to continue their studies and experimentations. Together, they made several breakthroughs in contacting other planes, and crafted several arcane artifacts to aid them in their work. Once such artifact, the DeTerlizzi-Ghalina Pocket Astrolabe, was intended to aid its user while walking the planes, allowing them to open doorways to other planes at a whim, without fear of becoming lost or destroyed. However, the arcane energies powering it were not able to withstand regular use. The two found themselves frustrated time and again at their inability to perfect the item.

As they became more and more determined to complete the astrolabe, Marlyn began research into darker paths of study. Karina saw her partner’s descent, her interest in necromancy, but convinced herself the interest was purely academic. She ignored Marlyn’s sidelong glances and her pale complexion, until that final, fateful day.

The day dawned sunny and warm. Marlyn suggested the two take a picnic out by the old standing stones. If Karina noticed anything odd in her partner’s demeanor that day, she did not let on.

The meal was delightful, and as they sat in companionable silence, Karina noticed her breathing become labored. The edges of her vision blurred and began closing in. Her legs collapsed from beneath her, and as Marlyn stood over her, knife in hand, the darkness swallowed her before she could feel the bite of the blade.

Properties. The Ghalina pocket astrolabe is made of mithril, platinum, and gold, inset with deep purple gemstone in the center. Moveable rings of platinum overlay an etched design of lines, circles, and runes that resemble the patterns of the planes.

When attuned to the astrolabe, you gain the ability to cast true seeing on yourself once per day. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until the next dawn.

Additionally, the astrolabe allows you to cast one of the following spells once per day without the need for material components: astral projection, banishment, contact other plane, gate, and plane shift. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until the next dawn. You have advantage on any saving throws or ability checks involved in casting these spells, and any related to navigating the planes and to avoid being lost.

Sentience. The astrolabe is a sentient neutral good item possessed by the spirit of Karina DeTerlizzi. It has Intelligence 18, Wisdom 10, and Charisma 9. It has hearing out to 120 feet and darkvision 60 feet.

The item can speak, read, and understand Common, Elvish, Celestial, Draconic, Abyssal, Infernal, Primordial, and Sylvan. It can communicate with its wielder telepathically.

Personality. Karina was a bubbly, enthusiastic arcane practitioner in life. In death, her effervescence has been dulled by the betrayal of her partner and her imprisonment in the astrolabe. When speaking of the arcane, hints of her former self peek through, and she gets lost in hypothesis and conjecture. When speaking of her former partner, she is in turns sad that she allowed Marlyn to fall so far, and furious at her treachery.

Casting a spell from the astrolabe causes terrible pain to Karina. The wielder hears her screams of agony.

Goals. Karina wants to be free from the astrolabe.

The Cost of Freedom. Freeing Karina requires a character to return the astrolabe to the stone circle where she was killed and cast dispel magic on it while there.

If these two steps are completed, Karina’s soul is released from the astrolabe as a ghost. For the next minute, she is confused and hostile, attacking any creatures within 30 feet of her. At the end of the minute, or if she is subjected to the effects of a spell like calm emotions, Karina calms, and remains long enough to speak with the characters before departing.

Once Karina is freed, the astrolabe becomes nonmagical, though a character proficient in Arcana gains advantage on checks related to planar travel if using the item in their calculations.

Find more magic items for your D&D game in Vault of Magic, Deep Magic, and Tome of Heroes!

about Sarah Madsen

Sarah Madsen is an author and TTRPG designer. She has contributed to projects from Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, Ghostfire Gaming, Cubicle 7, and others. Her cyberpunky urban fantasy novel, Weaver’s Folly, is available from Falstaff Books. You can find her on X (formerly Twitter) @UnfetteredMuse, Facebook (facebook.com/SarahMadsenAuthor), or WordPress (unfetteredmuse.com).

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