D&D’s Open Grave: Jet Black IOUN Stone
For D&D’s Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead, I had the unique opportunity to design of its artifacts; for this assignment, I chose one of my favorite magic items, the IOUN stones:
From Open Grave: For the most part, Ioun stones are not unique in their nature—any number of dark blue, pale aquamarine, moss green, and other colored stones proliferate throughout the world. Their creator Ioun seeks to distribute knowledge in all its forms.
Still, even deities are responsible for items they wish they could unmake. Ioun’s black artifact is one such creation. A unique stone without copy or sibling, it is thought that Ioun crafted it at the behest of Zehir, deity of darkness, poison, and assassins. The lord of knowledge might have felt compelled to create the Stone so that Zehir could use it in the pursuit of understanding—even if that learning involved better ways to find and kill his victims. In truth, the Stone proved a powerful tool, often bestowed directly by Zehir upon a worthy follower to aid in a particularly dangerous assassination attempt.
Invested with a sizable portion of Ioun’s magical energy, the Stone gained a semblance of self-awareness. After years of aiding in the murder of so many, the Stone has seen its personality become twisted and darkened. Its reputation has grown as well. It has become—however dangerous it might be to possess—a compelling prize for assassins…
Design Notes: I’ve always been fascinated with IOUN stones as magic items in the game; in 4th Edition, I also thought it a stroke of genius (conceived by R&D’s Chris Perkins, I believe) to make Ioun an actual god, of knowledge. For the heretofore unknown jet black stone, I concepted it much like “The Force” weapon from R-Type—a kind of floating gun platform that follows you around.
R&D’s Bruce Cordell extended the offer to design this artifact for the book; I am incredibly grateful to him for the opportunity, and appreciate the help and development for it to be published.