a skull crucible is a real thing

So I was wikipedia’ing random things, like ya do, when I discovered that cubic zirconia are made in something called a “SKULL CRUCIBLE.” Developed by the Soviets – of course it was – it uses lightning bolts (well, a radio frequency magnetic field, but let’s say lightning bolts) to heat the inside of a big block of zirconium oxide. The inside melts and turns into crystals, while the outside remains a solid white shell, like a skull.

At the end of the process, a Soviet scientist cracks the skull with a hammer (note that there’s an actual hammer in the picture below), and cubic zirconia spill out like candy out of a pinata! But instead of candy, it’s gems, and instead of a pinata, it’s a skull! Science is awesome!

This is so D&D it’s almost too D&D. I mean, how do you improve on that?

Inspired by this process, here’s a creepy any-edition D&D spell to teach your Big Bad Evil Guy:

Skull Crucible

This is a horrifying variation on the Lightning Bolt spell – same level, damage, and effects, except as noted below. It is available to any evil wizard who knows Lightning Bolt and has a Carbuncle as a familiar.

This guy teaches the spell.

  • When you cast it, you can voluntarily reduce its damage by any amount, down to minimum damage of 1 HP.

  • Each time you hit someone with the spell, a part of their brain turns into a gemstone of random type and value. Reduce the target’s Intelligence by 1. If the target receives any form of magical healing, the gemstone is destroyed and the Intelligence is restored.
  • The only way to harvest the gemstones is to perform a killing blow with a bludgeoning weapon, breaking open the victim’s skull and spilling forth the gems. Any other cause of death, including reducing Int to 0 and excessive HP damage from the Skull Crucible spell, will cause the gemstones to revert to brain matter.

    Chances are, the PCs will first learn of this spell when a mysterious wizard starts paying for kidnappings with handfuls of uncut gems. The smarter the kidnapping victim, the more valuable to the wizard!

  • 2 Responses to “a skull crucible is a real thing”

    1. Cody C. says:

      This spell is disturbing and I love it. I can actually see some of these “skull gems” having a place on the black market, with criminals kidnapping people and performing the spell on them because its much easier than actually mining for them. I’m so using this spell sometime in the future.

    2. Charles T. says:

      … and the gems that are produced are greatly prized in the creation of Ioun Stones. There are even rumors of the rare gem that is produced by this spell as being created as a +1 Int Ioun Stone without any further enchantment needed.

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