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Haunted Items: Rat Queen’s Headdress

Haunted Items: Rat Queen’s Headdress

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 has unfinished business keeping 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!

High Priestess Griz’zlark/The Rat Queen’s Headdress

Wondrous Item, Legendary (Requires Attunement)

This headdress is crafted from a dire rat skull, raven feathers, and carved bone beads. The skull has been stained dark and then painstakingly hand carved, creating a contrasting, delicate, lace-like appearance across the surface.

The headdress belonged to High Priestess Griz’zlark, a goblin matriarch who guided her clan to claim a large swath of land along the Dirge River. She was a powerful shaman with an affinity for rodents. She held a deep wisdom and the gift of scrying and prophecy.

Under her guidance, her clan captured numerous towns and settlements, killing and displacing the human inhabitants. Other goblin clans in the region initially attempted to fight against Griz’zlark’s Rat Fang Clan. But one by one, they tasted the clan’s prowess and either fell before them or joined them.

At the height of their power, the Rat Fangs numbered nearly a thousand, and occupied nearly sixty square miles of territory. Griz’zlark herself claimed the largest town on the Dirge as her seat of power, and lived in the former mayor’s mansion, with her myriad rats and mice as her eyes, ears, and teeth.

Griz’zlark’s downfall came from within. One of her lieutenants, a goblin named Targgard, chafed under her leadership. He had been at the head of his own clan once, the Snakescale Clan, before Griz’zlark’s rise, and wanted to reclaim that power. One night, during an evening of feasting and drinking, he waited until Griz’zlark was drunk, walked up behind her, and slit her throat.

Chaos descended on the Rat Fang Clan. The lieutenants, all of whom had been at the feast, leapt at one-another’s throats, fighting for supremacy. In their battle and distraction, it took them too long to notice the squeaking, writhing mass of rodents forming around the corpse of their former master. The creatures surged over the lieutenants, devouring them in a frenzied wave of teeth and claws. The goblins in the city fled from the sounds within, and the Rat Fang Clan split, dispersing to the wilderness in fragments.

Properties. The Rat Queen’s Headdress is crafted from a carved dire rat skull, raven feathers, and bone beads. It is made to fit one of the smaller races. It fits on a human-sized head, but it looks oddly small and out of place.

When you attune to this item, you gain +2 to your Wisdom score, and the ability to cast conjure animals once a day. The conjured animals always take the form of rodents. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until after a long rest.

Sentience. The Rat Queen’s Headdress is a sentient neutral evil item possessed by the spirit of High Priestess Griz’zlark. It has an Intelligence of 14, a Wisdom of 18, and a Charisma of 12. It has hearing and darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.

The item can speak, read, and understand Common and Goblin. It can communicate with its wearer telepathically.

Personality. The headdress is angry, vengeful, and hates anyone who isn’t a goblin or goblinoid. If the wearer is not a goblinoid, the headdress shrieks curses in Goblin at them.

The spirit of Griz’zlark only begins to respect a non-goblinoid wearer if they display an affinity for rodents, or if they show cunning or prowess in battle, particularly if they are bloodthirsty and merciless. If the non-goblinoid wearer is of an evil alignment, Griz’zlark’s spirit is willing to work with them, though she makes her loathing clear at any chance she gets. She encourages cruelty and ruthlessness, and despises mercy.

Goals. Griz’zlark wishes to see her kind elevated, non-goblinoids destroyed, and to see the remaining traitorous Snakescale Clan wiped out.

Bloodlust Slaked. When you satisfy one of Griz’zlark’s goals, she rewards you with additional perks. To satisfy a goal, you must be attuned to the Rat Queen’s Headdress, and you must be wearing it when you accomplish a goal.

  • When you kill, torture, or commit an act of cruelty against a non-goblinoid or a member of the Snakescale Clan, you gain 1d10 temporary hit points.
  • If you aid a goblinoid, you can add 1d4 to any saving throw for the next 24 hours.
  • If you kill all members of the Snakescale Clan, you can use the headdress to cast conjure animals three times before a long rest instead of once. Additionally, you can cast it as a 7th-level spell.

Cursed. The headdress is cursed. Attuning to it curses you until you are targeted by a remove curse spell or similar magic. Removing the headdress fails to end the curse on you. As long as you remain cursed, you are unwilling to part with the headdress, keeping it within reach at all times. While attuned to this item, if you harm a goblinoid (other than those of the Snakescale Clan) or show mercy to a member of the Snakescale Clan, you take 1d10 psychic damage.

Find more magic items for your D&D game in Vault of Magic, Deep Magic, and Tome of Heroes! For a limited time, get pocket editions of all three for a special price!

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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