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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About Ioun Stones

I was flipping through an old Dragon Magazine a few months ago and stumbled upon a couple of awesome articles on Ioun stones in issue 174. I immediately decided to wedge this stuff into my D&D Next campaign, combining it with a new abyssal lair that has demonic versions of ioun stones.

An Ioun Stone is a magic gem that magically orbits your body. While it does so, it gives you a special benefit. Here's a few examples:

Deep Red Sphere: Gives +1 to Strength
Light Blue Prism: User can understand all spoken languages
Pearly White Spindle: Regenerate 1 hit point per hour
Frosty White Octahedron: Contains 1 to 4 WISHES

Awesome, right? There's so many of them. If you have any interest at all in handing these out in your games, take some from this complete list of over 150.(The author was also kind enough to point out a massive free document he made about over 600 ioun stones here).

Ioun stones apparently were inspired from the works of Jack Vance like The Dying Earth and Eyes of the Overworld. In one story, there's a wizard who has so many ioun stones orbiting him that it looks like a cloud. Crazy. There is a very good article on Jack Vance's influence (Vance = Vecna) on D&D by Bart Carroll on here.

If you remember in my list of the coolest Spelljammer monsters, there's this fireball creature known as an Elmarin. Some of them have ioun stones at their core. Gnomes hunt them and harvest them from their stones.

In this Dragon Magazine article, there is another source of ioun stones: The Quasi-Elemental Plane of Minerals. There, the ioun stones are jealously guarded by agents of the Quasi-Elemental Prince of Minerals - Crystalle, The One of Many Facets.
"Dude, that is just perverted"
OK clearly we've struck gold here, right? How awesome is that? Creeping around a plane of minerals, breaking off an ioun stone and then running from Crystalle's weird gem-monsters.

- There are many sharp crystals, making the quasi-plane dangerous to traverse.
- The Ioun stones grow near the boundary with The Positive Material Plane.

There's some info on The Mineral Plane from the AD&D 1st Edition Manual of the Planes:

It is filled with black marble polished to a mirror shine with veins of gold, gems and crystals. It borders the plane of Positive Energy, ending in a great cliff-face. It shares a lot of properties (I don't like this and may change it in my game) with the Plane of Earth:

- It's full of matter, as if you were deep in the earth. So when you go there, if you don't have proper magic, you're probably crushed or dead. You take "d2 damage per round" from the pressure.
- There's no air, so you can't breathe. There are some pockets of elemental air.
- You're blind "because of the solid mass around" you. The book recommends a ring of x-ray vision.

This is all goofy to me. Why waste time detailing a place that is virtually impossible to adventure in? I guess they intended it for very high-level characters with spells to handle it.

I suppose the heroes would need some kind of apparatus of kwalish or a gnome drilling device or something to travel through the quasi-plane. That might be cool.

There are nodes of huge malformed crystals that mate contain d10 ioun stones in a crystalline web.

There are lead towers that extend into the Positive Material Plane that are home to beings of immense power who own many ioun stones.

There's three main dangers:

1. Positive Energy Pulse: A wave that blasts across the fringes at 900 feet per round consuming everything except the geode and the lead towers.
2. Fossilization: If you spend too long in the plane, you become fossilized
3. Guardians: 90% of the geodes are protected by quasi-elementals.

Opening a geode is not so easy, either:
- You need a +3 weapon to break it open
- When opened, there is an explosion of radiance doing 3d10 damage in a 15 foot radius

The second article in the magazine (by the same author: Matthew Hargenrader) details the creatures and the mighty Crystalle.

I had a dream where rock candy was eating ME
Glomus: A hovering crystal cluster made of sharp shards. It attacks by just flying into you. When you kill it, it explodes. An hour later.. it reforms. "Glomus" is a great name for a band.

Shard: A floating, sharp shard of crystal. Once per day it can spin and let out a paralyzing burst of colored light. There are rumors of shards that are 15 feet long (yikes).

Spined Shard: Weapons of less than +2 may melt when they hit it! It has an anti-magic aura that distorts or ruins spells 75% of the time. It has tentacles and shoots nasty little energy beams..

Chamrol: These things look like tentacle christmas trees that can be as big as 500 feet tall. It can constrict you, and once per day it shoots a beam of positive energy that does 2 points of damage per 10 feet of length. So.. uh.. 500 feet tall.. 100 points of damage. Save for half!

Energy Pod: A floating ball with tentacles

Trilling Crysmal: (I'd prefer a trolling crysmal) It can shoot barbs that shatter inside you and do damage to you whenever you make violent movements. And it reflects spells!

And then we have the ruler:

Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame!
Crystalle: ...! He has a cloud of ioun stones hovering around him. He is obsessed with protecting his realm from intruders. He has a scepter composed of gemstones never seen before on the prime material plane. He has a pile of unique ioun stones

Look at the picture of Crystalle there to the right. Something about it just cracks me up. Don't get me wrong, he is cool. He's a gem dude with a metric ton of magic gems. 

But I can't help but picture him as being bright pink in color. And.. you know... obsessed with bracelets and purses and stuff. It just seems like it would be a very amusing villain - he is incredibly powerful and also has a cat calender in his trap-filled lair.

Kind of cool
In Open Grave, there is an ioun stone detailed as an artifact. It is the Jet Black Ioun Stone.

This ioun stone is semi-sentient and is devoted to "amoral killing". You can send it off and spy on people through it. It communicates to you through a "whispered chorus" in your mind.

It is said that Ioun herself made this stone for Zehir, god of assassins.

This item feels like it needs a bit more detail, but I felt it was worth noting. I don't think there are any other ioun stones written up as an artifact.

There you go. Ioun stones are awesome. They should be used! Just don't forget to have NPCs react to these weird little gems floating around them. It would definitely be noticed and local thieves probably couldn't resist trying to snatch them.

Definitely check out the ioun stone list. It is a fantastic resource right here. Or better yet, check out this massive pdf by the same author - it is completely free here at Dragonsfoot!


Anonymous said...

The same author...(happens to be me...Matt H.)...also has a compiled list of 600 different IOUN stones as a free 100+ page download on Dragonsfoot. Lots of cool artwork etc. etc.

Sean said...

Thanks, Matt! I edited and added the link to the blog post. I am looking at the pdf now and it is pretty epic.