Last night I dreamed that I inherited a haunted house. It was chock full of cursed/creepy objects, some of them good enough to stat up as D&D items.
Oracular Skull: This skull is set into the wall. When you make “eye contact” with its sockets, it says something like “pay me a tribute and I will answer any question you wish.” It opens its mouth. If you put money in its mouth and ask a question, it will answer with a high degree of accuracy. The price varies based on the difficulty and importance of the question, from around 50 GP for something like “what is the most common hair color in the country” to 1000 GP for “what is the secret weakness of the lich king”. The problem? The skull doesn’t specify its price for each question. If you put in too little for a certain question, it gobbles down the money and says, “Not enough, ask again.”
For extra creepiness, set this magic skull into a wall made of nonmagic skulls.
In my dream, I asked the skull, “What is your price structure?” hoping that this would be a free question. The skull replied, in an aggrieved tone, “I said, pay me a tribute and I will answer any question you wish.” So you have to pay to find out the price of a question. Nice racket, dream skull.
So let’s say I use this skull in a game, say on the third level of some dungeon. Let’s further say that I make the skull’s answers infallible, though brief. Does this break the game? I’d have to try it out to make sure, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t. For most PC parties, its answers are extremely expensive, in several ways: 1000 GP is a lot, and it’s easy to overpay if you need to beat an unknown price, and it can be somewhat taxing to get down to level 3 of a dungeon, even if you’ve cleared it before. It’s certainly more expensive than the various spells that let you ask questions of the gods themselves.
Snake Ring: This is a big, showy, gem-studded ring, clearly worth a lot of money. Its central gem is a pointy crystal that sticks out like a needle. When you put on the ring, you discover that the central gem wiggles around like the needle of a compass. It does its best to point towards the nearest location of at least 1 pound of food (possibly in your backpack).
If you touch the ring to food, the gem turns into a 1 1/2-inch-long snake, crawls out of the ring, and eats a pound of food. After it finishes, it lets you know telepathically that it will perform a service for you. It can perform any service that a tiny snake can accomplish (1 HP, and with a bite that does 1 point of damage: poison save or the target falls asleep). It will return to the ring after it completes its task or after 1 day of trying.
Here’s the weird thing about the ring: after each use, it requires double the food and is double the size: so on its second use it requires 2 pounds of food and is 3 inches long, and on the third use it eats 4 pounds and is 6 inches long, etc. On each use, its bite damage also goes up by 1 point.
In my dream, my friend was excited about finding the ring, but I was deeply suspicious of it. I wondered: once it gets big enough to eat, say, 160 or 320 pounds of food at a time, will it consider the closest person – maybe even the ring owner – to be the closest food source? At some point, is it going to go on some sort of food binge and eat all the food in the world?
Another disquieting thing in the dream, probably sparked by the events of the Mearls sidebar: we found the ring stuck on a weird, leathery, boneless, severed hand. In order to slip off the ring, my friend had to cut off a finger. How did the original owner’s hand get like that?