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Story Stone
Rarity: Unique
Aura: Divination (Strong)
This unique artifact has the visage of a stone, but may be either rough or polished, or even a gemstone. It may be bracketed and worn as a pendant, or as a setting on other jewelry, but its typical size (about palm-sized) precludes this use.
While held, or worn if in a setting: once per day, as a full round action, the holder can automatically pass a History check, as if by critical success. On doing so, that creature may perceive, with all of its senses, important or related events which answer or explain the check, usually in some form of narrative, and in an ethereal or dreamlike manner. (The DM is at liberty to be as detailed or terse as they see fit, so long as the depictions are accurate, relevant, and faithful to the purpose of the check.) While doing so, unless the holder has blindsight or truesight, it can no longer sense its own surroundings. Regardless of the perceived length, the duration is still one round.
When used subsequent times in the same day: the DM rolls d100 secretly; on less than 50: the story is anything but accurate; it may be simply fictitious, have errors of omission, and/or be downright harmful to the goal of the check (consider it a critical failure instead). Otherwise, the effects are as normal, but the DM retains the liberty to be more terse.
As a free action, a creature knowing any language can tell the Story Stone a story; if the story is deceptive, that creature must succeed on a Deception check, DC 25 (or as the DM sees fit). Any other creature knowing any language can ask the Story Stone to recite that creature's story (the most recent one being chosen), or specify a detail which is specified within the story (as with the History check). The storyteller can, with the telling, also give a phrase of up to fifteen words that will recount the selfsame story when spoken aloud by a holder (no History check required). In either case, the story is recounted exactly as it was told, and in the voice of the storyteller, but possibly translated into the other language, and the stone may "bring the story to life" by providing similar, vivid hallucinations). In this usage, the Story Stone resembles a more powerful Talking Stone.
Only one Story Stone exists in the world; it has existed since times prehistoric, being informed slowly throughout the years by the sages who have held it. The current form of the Story Stone has the same AC and HP as a mundane stone of the same form. When destroyed, a new stone somewhere within the material plane is randomly selected (by the DM).
Per Detect Magic, the Story Stone has a strong aura of divination.
This is a neat item, but it has some overlaps with Legend Lore--something I discovered later. I like to sometimes call it the "Exposition Stone" because it gives me an excuse to let one of the characters in on a potentially-enlightening part of the (quite complex) lore of the setting.
The coinflip is intentionally supposed to be dismal. When the effect is cumulative, players can assume that an overused Story Stone is _always_ lying, so the truth must always be different--and thus they gain some information. By having it be a coinflip, it's always up in the air as to how accurate the stone was any time past the first.
This stone was created first, and the Talking Stone later, as I realized that its "store and recall" mechanics could be distilled in other ways.
At least the 5e modules agree with me on having a rarity class of "unique". Naturally, the world would be a boring place if the stone didn't end up in the hands of some powerful mage over the years, so assume that--with some intelligent guidance--it always manages to. Goodness, a Cult of the Stone is not out of the question in some settings.