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Talking Stone
Rarity: Uncommon
Aura: Illusion
These artifacts usually take the form of palm-sized stones or other mineral materials of a similar size. Not all such stones can accept this spell, but more precious gemstones tend to work more reliably.
A creature holding the stone which knows at least one language can, as a free action: speak to the stone, or clear the message.
Whenever the stone is initially touched by a creature that understands at least one language: hears the previously recorded message, if any, over the course of a free action, in a language that it understands, and in the voice of the caster. If the creature stops touching the stone during the message, it ceases hearing it; a creature which is no longer touching the stone will hear it anew when they touch the stone again.
The stone can hold up to one message; a newly recorded message clears the previous one irretrievably.
Neither recording the message nor hearing the recording are affected by the inability to speak or hear, including earmuffs, gags, loud noise, or magical means, such as the Silence spell.
The recorded message, when being "heard" by touching a creature that understands at least one language, can be a verbal-component-only cantrip, such as Thaumaturgy or Vicious Mockery, if the recording creature knows that spell. The touching creature is the caster.
Such a stone can be created by casting Magic Mouth at 5th or higher level on the chosen stone. As above, not all stones can accept this spell; gems work well, the more precious, the better. A stone must not have a diameter longer than 4in., or shorter than 1in., in any dimension, or the spell will fail.
The stone retains its AC and HP. When destroyed, the recording is lost irretrievably.
Per Detect Magic, the stone has an aura of Illusion.
This item is another fun item, originally inspired by the Story Stone--indeed, this is a loosening of its mechanics that brings it to "uncommon" rarity.
The most obvious use of the stone is to get around issues caused by Silence or gags; creatures passing a stone back and forth can converse freely. A less obvious use is its ability to store V-only cantrips and use the touching creature as the caster (though this is a very small class of spells). A more insidious use, as in C3, is to store command words or other special rituals (as the "words that end the world" to summon Tiamat there). Still more insidious: such stones can surreptitiously pass whispers between spies, and be completely and irretrievably cleared of their espionage the moment the message is heard (this would be nice for dead drops).
Note that the stone has no "length of message" requirement. You can drone into this thing for hours. Playing it back, though, takes the same amount of time, every time, and there's no seeking. This could be used to the benefit of some incredibly sardonic plot to record "several minutes of silence" followed by some actually-important message.
There's no provision for copying these, but it can be home-ruled. For example, you might have it such that one who prepares to "record" on one stone can bring the source stone in contact, and receive two stones with the same message effectively instantaneously. Alternatively, you may eschew this option, and just have it so that the only way to copy properly is to have a creature painstakingly re-record the message for the same length of time (or longer, if they need to listen to it multiple times), hoping that there are no transcription errors. (The likelihood of such transcription errors increases appreciably if the listener is not hearing the message spoken in its native tongue.)