Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wizard Dolls

Prince Guba, an accomplished wizard himself, is said to have created the first magical doll of this type for his daughter, Negoshka, a hundred and seventy years ago. It has since become fashionable for court wizards to create and present them to their boyar patrons. The Tzar's personal collection is said to contain dozens.

A Wizard Doll is an enchanted variety of a folk craft common throughout Novaka. Made of wood or very rarely metal, vaguely egg-shaped doll, richly decorated with paints, enamel, or carving. They divide
horizontally across the middle revealing a slightly smaller doll of like construction nestled within. Yet another doll awaits inside this one and so on until only the smallest sliver of wood remains, the baby doll.

"Opening" a doll releases the magical enchantment it has been imbued with. This enchantment manifests but once. Each doll's decoration provides clues as to the nature of the enchantment but the exact effect is never documented. Debating over what a doll might do is one reason these gifts remain so popular with the upper classes.

Sample doll effects:

Vedomye Zheny(wise woman) - Decorated with cracked aged paint depicting an ancient, wrinkled crone in peasant cloths and holding a black kettle. When opened a nearby fire/oven will become temporally enchanted. If no cooking apparatus is close, a mystical fire and kettle will form/emerge from the ground. No matter the form, it knows what the doll's owner needs better then they do and will magically prepare it. If they are sick or wounded, a healing tea will be brewed. If they are about to embark on a hard day's travel then a nourishing and energizing stew will appear. If they are lovelorn, well you get the idea. At the next sunrise the enchantment fades / fire & kettle returns to the earth.

Tzar's Army - Doll is of a stately costumed soldier of the Imperial Guard. When cracked 2-4 mystical beings (spirits of past soldiers) coalesce from mists. They will not communicate in any form. They will, at all times, act as highly disciplined soldiers obeying orders of the doll's owner until vanishing at daybreak.

Winter Scene - W
rapped around this "doll" is a finely painted landscape of a grand sleigh speeding past a warmly lit Izba. Soon after splitting the jingling of tiny bells and neighing of horses will be heard. Moments later a red sleigh festooned with fanciful decorations including silver bells will briskly arrive and alight a few steps away from the owner. A silent skeletal coachman in matching livery will then hop down and bid them, enter. The sleigh and barely visible team of phantom horses will transport four adults and a small amount of equipment with great speed over ice and snow. Disappearing at journey's end or the next sunrise whichever occurs first. If ground conditions aren't appropriate for a sleigh all within earshot will hear the sounds of an approaching and then departing sleigh followed by the dissapointed crying of a young girl. The magic is otherwise wasted.

The Guard - One side has a typical stern faced foot soldier dressed in blue, and the other portrays the same soldier dressed in red but wearing a curious smirk. Soon after its opening a man dressed in blue will arrive (walking out of the woods, entering the bathhouse, etc.) He'll offer to serve as
watchman and guard in order to repay an ill-defined debt the details of which honor forbids him to reveal. He avoids combat but performs his guard duties admirably having senses far superior to those of any natural being. After alerting the owner to some harm the man will indicate the debt is paid. Changing his dress to red he offers stay on for very reasonable fee. If accepted he will at some point betray the owner (leading an enemy to camp, stealing horses when needed, etc.) and mention as he leaves that he owes owner a debt.

[Example magic item from Magic Items Should be Magical an article I submitted to Fudge Factor the sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

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