Eyes of the Overworld

Written by Andy Raff.

Overview and Flavour

Each of these items is a polished gemstone formed in the overworld (see 13th Age, page 247). While they are often mistaken for more mundane minerals – and often erroneously named for their resemblance to common gemstones – they are actually unique creations of the world above.

When pressed against the forehead, an eye of the overworldaffixes itself and remains in place easily and indefinately. The wearer can remove it easily as a quick action, but another person could take one of these eyes from an unwilling person only by gouging it out of the wearer's flesh.

Precious articles of jewelry in their own right, they possess useful enchantments that help to hone and focus the mental acuity of their wearer. 

These beautiful items are reasonably common in the overworld - perhaps the most common form of magical headware in the faworld above. In the world below, they are most commonly encountered as gifts from the Priestess and the Archmage. The Prince of Shadows is said to find these items "delightful" and the Three covet them as they covet few other gemstones. Unlike many enchanted items, the Dwarf King has little interest in them - they are the fruits of a realm far beyond the deep delvings of the earth. Occasionally, an eye of the overworld will show up in the possession of a merchant who deals with inhabitants of the realm above, or be worn by an emissary from one of the larger flying island realms.

They take their common name both from their provenance, and because they are worn as if they were a "third eye". Among the Elven court, they are sometimes called "Brow Stars" while the dwarves often refer to them as "Cloud Crowns."

Some scholars claim that the eyes of the overworldare crystalised from the blood, sweat or tears of the gods of light or at the very least created specifically by divine power. These sages claim that each eyeis associated with a specific deity, and that the deity can peer through the item at any point to observe the world below.

According to a scattered few conspiracy theorists, the Priestess and the Archmage both know ritual magics that allow them to scry the location of any eye of the overworldthat is not in the underworld, provided they have touched it at some point in the past.

Game Information

Helmet, Crown, Diadem or Circlet

Default Bonus: Mental defence; +1 MD (adventurer); +2 MD (champion); +3 MD (epic)

These tend to be Champion-tier or Epic-tier items, although the Lambent Sunstoneis encountered at Adventurer-tier. Most of these items can be adapted to Adventurer-tier with minimal effort.

Amethyst Cloudstar

This tear-drop shaped violet stone is so light that it floats half an inch or so above any surface on which it is placed. With a moment of concentration, the wearer can slip the bonds of gravity and glide through the air like the powerful denizens of the otherworld – albeit only for a few moments.

There are stories of wearers of an amethyst cloudstar falling from floating islands but maintaining enough presence of mind to use the stone at the last moment, allowing them to glide safely to the ground. Some individuals even make a dangerous sport of these long-distance falls.

Champion tier

(Recharge 11+) You can fly at the rate you normally move until the end of your turn (Epic: Until the end of your next turn). If you are falling when you activate this power, your fall immediately ends, negating any falling damage you might otherwise have taken.

Quirk:You tend to overestimate the distance you can jump or fall safely.

Hook: A dead body is found in the upper branches of a tall tree. Strangely clad, the corpse belongs to no known race of humanoid having several odd physical features. The cause of death appears to be from falling, but the corpse wears an amethyst cloudstar on it's brow ... a stone known to offer protection from even the longest fall. Where did the body come from? If it was murdered, who did it and why? If the victim was killed elsewhere, why was the valuable gemstone not removed before the body was dumped?

Celestial Hexagram

This prismatic hexagonal stone shimmers with a flickering inner spark. Also called a skystone, it changes colour seemingly at random from minute to minute, shifting between all the shades of the rainbow. Possessing a texture like opal, the celestial hexagram is flat on one side while the other side is faceted and rises to a central point. When it's power is evoked, it burns for a few moments with multicoloured radiance that spreads to the eyes and fingers of the wearer.

These items are most commonly encountered in the Dragon Empire as gifts of the Priestess - or very occasionally as boons from the Crusader.

Champion tier

(Recharge 11+) When you cast a divine spell, allow one nearby ally (Epic: one or two nearby allies) to roll a save against an ongoing save ends effect as a free action.

Quirk: Prone to quietly humming, whistling or singing hymns, often extempraneously.

Hook: A child has gone missing from a village in the foothills of the mountain. The parents are obviously distraught; the villagers think they know who is to blame. A cloaked and hooded figure was seen in the area shortly before the disappearance, asking questions about the child and her family. Descriptions of the supposed villain are fragmentary and contradictory but all agree that the sinister agent wore a prismatic hexagon gemstone on his brow. Who is this stranger? Is it an agent of the Priestess, the Crusader ... or an emissary from a flying island? Has the figure stolen the child, or does he possess insight into the real kidnappers?

Coruscant Sapphire

This dark blue elipsoid gemstone seems to be full of tiny stars. Sometimes called a witchstone, it helps the wearer to focus their will to crush that of their enemies. When the power of the stone is evoked, the tiny stars flare and flicker - in some cases they may actually manifest as a halo of silver lights that momentarily circle the head of the wearer.

Champion tier

(Recharge 6+) When you miss with an attack that targets Mental Defence, you can reroll the attack with a +2 bonus (Epic:+4). You must use the result of the reroll.

Quirk: Feels an urge to speak slowly and clearly when dealing with people they consider to be less intelligent than they are - and quickly becomes exasperated with the slow of thinking.

Hook: A local leader has gone missing from her home. While popular, the mayor (or alderman or guildmistress or what have you) was notoriously set in her ways and represented traditional interests that supported the status quo. This disappearnce is just the first. Investigation turns up no sig of foul play - it is as if the victim simply left her home of her own accord. Further inbestigation a number of notes and letters suggesting "sensible" changes to current laws and the like, which appear to have been ignored. The culprit is a magician or psychic who has fallen under the influence of a powerful Coruscant Sapphire and is using mental powers to try and "improve" their home town or village - kidnapping anyone who stands in their way by charming them, dominating them or 'suggesting' that they either come along peacefully or take an uncharacteristic midnight stroll through a dark part of town. Where did the well-meaning villain come by an eye of the overworld? Is this part of a wider plan by one of the Icons to "tame" an otherwise anarchic region?

Effulgent Moonstone

This white ellipsoid stone resembles nothing so much as a droplet of highly polished marble the colour of fresh snow. The wearer's senses are often capable of great acuity, allowing them to uncover details or make intuitive leaps that appear almost supernatural.

Sometimes these stones are found in the possession of investigators or scholars, who use them to uncover hidden clues. They are also useful to wilderness guides both for spotting dangerous environmental factors and for sensing ambushes, and there is at least one story of a courtier in the Emperor's Court who wore an effulgent moonstone to every banquet and party and used the insight it offered to uncover the weaknesses and alliances of her political opponents.

Champion tier

(Recharge 6+) You can change one of your skill checks involving perception to a natural 20 instead. Interpret the word "perception" as loosely as the GM allows. It is equally appropriate for spotting clues, gaining insight about someone, sensing danger or piercing deception both mundane and supernatural.

Quirk: Prone to over analysing simple events looking for complex explanations hidden inside them.

Hook: An agent of one of the Icons has been murdered during a social engagement, and their effulgent moonstone stolen or destroyed. What secret had the agent uncovered that lead to their death? Did they pierce the wrong disguise, or did the stone give them insight into a hidden alliance? Can the heroes uncover the murderer before the end of the social engagement? Recovering the effulgent moonstone may only be the first step in retracing the steps of the dead agent - and exposing the conspiracy, the lycanthrope or the glamour-wrapped assassin before it is too late.

Emerald Arrowhead

This delicate green stone is cut precisely into the shape of a kite. It is perhaps an inch long and half an inch across at it's widest point. The wearer gains the ability to focus their full attention on a single target, honing their thoughts to an obsessive, razor-sharp edge. These enhanced perceptions allow them to aim their arrows or magical attacks with devastating precision. The valuable combat advantages offered by the emerald arrowhead are especially valuable to archers, assassins and battle magicians.

Champion tier

(Recharge 16+) As a quick action, choose an enemy you can see. The critical range of your ranged attacks against that enemy expands by 2 for the rest of the battle, and when your ranged attack targets that creature while it is engaged with an ally you have no chance of hitting an ally. A mob of mooks counts as a single enemy for purposes of this ability.

Quirk: Constantly judges the distance to and positioning of others to ensure clear lines of sight, whether friends or enemies.

Hook: The assassin has been foiled - perhaps by the player characters - and her head now adorns a spike. Due to an oversight, haste or simply a congruence of synchronicity the emerald arrowhead she used to make her impossible shots is still on her head ... The authorities will notice eventually and conviscate the item, but cunning or stealth could be used to recover it before that happens. The Prince of Shadows has an interest in seeing the item recovered, but so do the assassin's allies. The head is in a well-guarded public place that is difficult to get to (on top of a gate, on a twelve-foot spike in the middle of a courtyard or what have you), and the clock is ticking ... This could even represent a conflicted boon from the Prince of Shadows or from an Icon likely to employ assassins such as, the Lich King or even the Crusader (the problem lies in getting hold of the item, obviously).

Incandescent Starstone

This translucent nine-pointed star sparkles faintly in dim light. Meditating for a moment on the cool confidence the stone is infused with can grant provide great clarity of thought to the wearer. When it's full power is evoked, it blazes for a few moments with the brightness of a falling star.

Champion tier

(Recharge 11+) You can use this ability at the start of your turn when you are suffering a save ends effect that causes you to be confused, dazed or stunned; that inflicts ongoing psychic damage; or that otherwise impairs your mental capabilities and clarity of thought. End that effect, as if you had rolled a successful save against it. This does not require an action.

Quirk: Prone to considering for a few moments before answering or asking any question, no matter how trivial.

Hook: A vital piece of information is in the possession of someone labouring under a terrible curse that leaves them incoherent and violent. Many attempts to counter the curse have been made, but all have failed. A scholar theorizes that an incandescent starstone might allow the victim to throw off the curse, but locating it and getting it onto the head of the target may prove tricky. Where can the heroes get a powerful magical gemstone? Which Icon has a vested interest in ensuring the information does not become available, and why have they not simply killed the accursed victim? How securely is the patient held - what if they get loose and need to be hunted down and restrained before the stone can be fitted to their brow?

Lambent Sunstone

This disc of smooth golden stone glows with an inner radiance. The longer it is exposed to natural light, the brighter the inner radiance becomes. Around an inch across, one side of the disc is smooth and the other is gently convex.

Adventurers who wish to see in dark places, yet do not have a spare hand with which to carry a lantern or torch, find a lambent sunstone especially useful. A simple effort of will causes the lambent sunstone to spill golden radiance in a great circle around the wearer, and can be quenched with another effort.

Adventurer tier

(Recharge 6+) As a standard action you can evoke a shimmering aura of golden radiance around yourself that provides light out to around thirty feet. You can cancel the aura with another standard action; otherwise it will last for up to an hour. It immediately winks out if you are rendered unconscious or killed.

Quirk: Uncomfortable in areas of dim lighting and prone to panic attacks in dark areas.

Hook: These items are filled with pure light from the world above, and certain creatures of the underworld find that light uncomfortable or even painful. A terrible beast made of living darkness infests an underground maze; it is an almost insurmountable foe for a party of adventurers of the character's tier. However, it is known that the beast cannot approach an area of pure illumination produced by  

Hook: The Palace of Malagyr is haunted by an uncountable horde of incorporeal, spectral horrors filled with living darkness that feed on the sanity and life of any who stray into that ruined court. They present an insurmountable obstacle for adventurers of the character's tier, but a certain sage desperately needs a piece of information contained on a great mural in the heart of ruined court - and has uncovered a fragmentary claim that the shadowed hordes that dwell in the subterranean palace cannot abide the touch of the pure light of the overworld. She surmises that if a party of heroes were equipped with a lambent sunstone they could penetrate the maze-like ruin, recover the information, and return safely ... provided they can do so before the light from the sunstone is depleted.  

Lucent Heliotrope

This beautiful prism-cut stone is a beautiful pink-purple shade and possesses hidden depths. It allows the wearer to keep their thoughts well ordered, and helps achieve a meditative state in which the memories of the last day or so can be easily accessed. 

Champion tier

(Always) You effortlessly recall the details of events you have experienced in the last day. If you need to make a dice roll to recall a specific fact, roll twice and use the result you prefer.

(Recharge with full heal-up) When you use this stone during a quick rest, you regain a daily adventurer-level arcane spell or bard song (1st or 3rd level, in practice). (Epic: Champion level spell or bard song, 5th or 7th level).

Quirk:Possesses a keen memory for minor details, and finds it hard to resist mentioning these trivial facts even when it is not appropriate to do so.

Hook:There is a tiny flaw with the lucent heliotrope, and one known only to the Prince of Shadows, the Archmage or a similar Icon; the stone can be used to relieve the previous day from the point of view of the bearer. The Icon needs access to specific memories of a secret meeting, preferably in a way that leaves their opponents none the wiser. The characters need to steal a specific lucent heliotrope and perform a ritual to unlock the memories within it, then return the stone before anyone realises it is gone. There is a time limit - the stone only stores a day of memories at any one time. What if the ritual goes wrong and the characters find themselves trapped in the memories of the stone's owner? What if it works but has unexpected side effects such as drawing the characters into a weirdly repeating time-loop that they must navigate and solve if they are to escape with their minds intact?

Ravenous Voidstone

This opaque diamond of dark purple stone seems to draw in and consume ambient light. The voidstone allows it's wearer to harness the energies of defeated opponents and use them to gain additional vigour. When it's power is evoked, it becomes jet-black, resembling a bottomless hole into some other realm. Some users report receiving occasional fragments of memory from those they use it's ability against.

Tavern stories claim that the Prince of Shadows has a contact in the overworld that provides him with these hungry crystals. Another story claims that the ravenous voidstone is not a crystal at all, but part of a dangerous overworld predator that feeds on a fraction of the living energies the wearer releases.

Champion tier

(Recharge 11+) When you drop one or more foes with an attack that targets Mental Defence, heal using a recovery.

Quirk: Constantly pick up small items and put them down without really being aware of what you are doing.

Hook: Someone with powerful mental abilities has become increasingly reliant on a ravenous voidstone - addicted to the rush of power and the fragments of memory the use of it's abilities can bring. They might be an obvious threat, such as a noble from the Overworld searching for new minds to "experience" or they might be a hidden danger, such as a desperate serial killer hiding behind an otherwise pleasant facade and sneaking out at night to satisfy their unnatural urge to consume the mental energies of others. A

Rose Prism

This multi-faceted crystal has a deep, dusty pink hue. One side is flat, but the other has four long and four short facets that give it a greater sense of weight and strength than other eyes of the overworld. The prism “flushes” a deep red when it's wearer experiences strong passions. It allows the wearer to draw on unexpected reserves of mental strength to avoid or endure deadly attacks.

Champion tier

(Recharge 11+) When an attack against your Physical Defence hits, make the attacker reroll the attack against your Mental Defence. If the attack still hits, you gain a +5 bonus to the next recharge roll for the rose prism.

Quirk: Feels deeply uneasy unless they have formulated at least two back-up plans before going into any dangerous situation.

Hook: A retired merchant offers a rose prism as a wager on games of skill and chance. Any challenger can try and claim it but must match his wager with one of their own - and all he will accept in return is one of their eyes. The merchant clearly has access to a source of these valuable items in the overworld, but what is the nature of that source? Why does the merchant collect eyes and what is he - or his overworld patron - doing with them? What is the Archmage's interest, and what role does the Prince of Shadows play in this odd arrangement?

Shimmering Seerstone

This opaque, grey oval appears dull and lifeless until it is placed on the brow between the eyes of an intelligent being. At this point, it becomes translucent and it's hue changes to match that of the wearer's eyes ... but the wearer's irises are drained of all colour and become dull, grey and lifeless until the stone is removed.

The most obvious use for one of these stones is to remain vigilant against invisible assassins or spies, but stories say that in the overworld there are entire nations of creatures that are impossible to perceive with normal vision. They speak of mirrors and even walls made of this marvellous mineral that reflect crowded ballrooms where mortals might see empty chambers.

Champion tier

(Always) You can perceive the location of nearby invisible creatures and objects. Outside of combat, invisible creatures gain no bonus to sneak around near you and during combat you have no chance to miss nearby invisible opponents with your attacks.

Quirk: Obsessively checks doors, furniture and curtains to ensure there is nobody hiding behind or inside them.

Hook: The Shimmering Seerstone does not just allow one to see invisible creatures - all sorts of invisible things can be perceived. Sometimes this can be problematic - imagine a scholar of the esoteric driven mad by the invisible and intangible horrors that surround a certain site when the stars are right. Other times, it can provide vital intelligence - imagine an invisible maze built by denizens of the overworld, or documents written in such a way that only someone possessing a shimmering seerstone can read them. Perhaps on certain moonless nights a ghostly citadel appears on the highest slopes of a forlorn mountain, reached only by an invisible spiral staircase. Once the home of occult astronomers until a fateful night when the stars the astronomers watched somehow looked back and tore the observatory adrift from the mortal world. With the aid of a shimmering seerstone a party of foolhardy adventurers could reach the halls of this citadel are filled with eldritch horrors and living nightmares and uncover it's awful secret.

Supernal Diamond

This clear cabuchon-cut stone has a single unwavering spark of light at it's centre. It is believed to grant it's wearer access to the “primal tongue” spoken by the gods, of which all other languages are but a fractured shadow.

Champion tier

(Always) You can speak, read and write all languages from the most ancient forgotten glyphs to the modern tongues of common humanoid creatures.

Quirk: Find it difficult to use one word where five words might be used instead.

Hook: Two powerful delegations are meeting on neutral ground to discuss a peace treaty. The diplomatic meeting has been brokered by a famous mediator and translator, who relies on a supernal diamond to understand the alien and obscure tongues of the delegation. Perhaps one side represents an overworld family, while the other represents creatures from the underworld. The meeting is of special interest to one or more Icons - perhaps the delegates are powerful magicians with whom the Archmage seeks an alliance; perhaps they represent foreign powers whose aid might be valuable to the Emperor; perhaps they are representatives of powerful religions that the Priestess wishes to incorporate into her grand scheme. Regardless, without the supernal diamond the talks are doomed to failure ... and of course at the worst possible moment someone has stolen the stone. Who is trying to sabotage the talks? Can the characters recover the stone in time? How do they interview powerful and suspicious individuals with whom they share no common tongues? What happens when the translator himself is struck down and someone has to step in to take her place?

Tourmaline Tower

This is brown-black oblong stone is perhaps an inch long and half an inch wide, with smoothly curved corners. When touched by living beings, it seems to buzz gently as if it were vibrating hundreds of times each second – but it does not actually move. With great effort, the protection offered by the stone can be extended to one's allies - when this happens, the stone glows witruby red and seems to fill with blood - blood that slowly ebbs away again as the magical protection fades.

Champion tier

(Always) You have resistance to psychic energy damage 12+ (Epic: 16+).

(Recharge 16+) As a quick action, spend a recovery to create a shimmering barely-visible aura of crimson light. Until the end of the battle, any ally engaged with you shares the resistance to psychic energy granted by the tourmaline tower.

Quirk: New ideas make you uncomfortable, and you may react poorly to anything that challenges your world view.

Hook: A certain vital rite must be performed on the suspiciously flattened top of a high conical hill, under the open sky. Part of the ritual involves an ancient cracked bell - a bell whose tolling shakes the sanity and destroys the minds of those exposed to it. If the heroes are to survive, they will need to rely on a tourmaline tower to shield them from the devastating effects of the bell long enough for them to deal with the awful winged horrors summoned from the cold winter sky by the bell's echoing peals.

 Unshakable Adamant

This cabuchon-cut diamond-like stone is virtually indestructible. It possesses unique clarity and fire, and appears to be infinitely deep – it is easy to become lost in the depths of the stone when studying or evaluating it. The stone is cold to the touch, and not only protects the mind of it's wearer but also sustains their body in some indefinable way. When the wearer is under the open sky at night, they often fancy they can hear distant singing, far, far away - and may find themselves increasingly tempted to seek out the source of that music.

Epic tier

(Always) You do not need to eat or drink as long as you are wearing the unshakable adamant. You will not die of old age as long as you wear this stone, but this does not grant eternal youth or protection from violence.

(Recharge 16+) When an attack against your Mental Defence hits, change that hit into a miss instead.

Quirk: Possesses absolute certainty that their will cannot be overcome or resisted.

Hook: Somewhere on the heights of a lonely mountain range wanders a shepherd who is said to have seen the first age and knows a secret that the Lich King would rather see lost forever. The shepherd wears an unshakable adamant, a gift from a living star in the last days before the Wizard King fell to the first Orc Lord. The Lich Kings agents are searching for this shepherd. Who is he really? What secret does he know? What if the secret is actually something the Lich King wants to know? Perhaps the shepherd needs to be persuaded to give up the eye of the overworld he wears - why is that, and what purpose is worth the ending of such a long life?

Notes and Adaptation

These items are clearly drawn from the Ioun Stones popular in previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and originally taken from the work of Jack Vance. It would be an easy matter to turn these eyes of the overworld into ioun stones - the only change would be that rather than being worn on the brow, they float near or circle around the head of their owner. They should still be considered "helmet chakra" items simply for purposes of game balance.

Any of these items can easily be turned into a helmet, circlet, crown or cap - and likewise any existing item of this type could become an eye of the overworld with minimal effort.

Another possibility would be to go to another of Jack Vance's stories - the titular Eyes of the Overworld novel contains delicate crsytalline lenses intended to be worn over the eyes. The Effulgent Moonstone, Emerald Arrowhead and Shimmering Seerstone in particular would work just as well as eyewear (or even goggles). it is a simple matter to explain the default bonus to Mental Defence for a head-chakra item in terms of supernatural perception of threats aimed at the mind.

I've tied these items into the overworld mostly because the original ioun stones have always been a little "esoteric" in nature. A campaign that deals with regular trips to the world above might be kicked off by one or more of these items, or they might be a regular feature of encounters with members of a certain society or conspiracy connected to a flying island.

To be honest, I imagine the individual eyes of the overworld as each being unique - while there are a number of jewels that stick to the forehead and grant mental powers, there is only one of each type. This helps enhance the mystery and wonder associated with them (although in this case I would have them increase in power as their wearers increase in level).

One possible use for these items would be as part of a collect-the-set campaign. Perhaps the stones are unique, but if they are all collected in a specific place a specific thing will occurr that the characters want to come to pass (or at least think they want to come to pass). Pick one stone for each character in the party, and choose suitable adversaries and the adventures more-or-less write themselves.

Another possibility would be to expand on the sinister hints that there is more to these items than meets the eye. Perhaps they are the extrusions of a many-eyed horror imprisoned in another dimension (Arik from Palace of the SIlver Princess springs to mind, as do the Brain Eaters of D&D and of course good old Yog Sothtoth). Perhaps this entity influences the bearers of these stones in it's pursuit of freedom, so it can return to rule the overworld.

Perhaps each stone is part of a larger crystal intelligence - a magicl supercomputer - that either has designs on world domination or merely wishes to be complete so it can depart for it's home realm. In this case, the stones could each represent a facet of the personality or powers of the central entity - something like the fourth doctor's Key to Time adventures could serve as inspiration.

Finally, they might just be rare magical items connected to the overworld - their flavour means that any mystery involving one of the eyes of the overworld can easily be linked to a flying island, cloud castle, storm giant or other supernal force with a simple knowledge check.

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • No comments found