Although the lure of discovery and the thrill of exploration is often enough to beckon some adventurers into the remote lost cities of the world, these reasons pale in comparison to the relentless hunt for magic items. In many cases, the denizens of these ancient cities fled their homes, or may even have perished within them. Who knows what wondrous discoveries might still lie hidden in forgotten vaults buried under these exotic ruins? Certainly these ancient magic items are equally as exotic, and they are often as unusual in shape as they are in function. The entries below highlight several examples of ancient magic dredged up from the lost city.
The Durakistad Coin (Major Artifact): The citizens of the ancient city of Durakistad lived lives of comfort and ease. Their leaders, powerful wizards and sorcerers, were both benign and generous as they were powerful. They used their amazing magical powers to benefit the citizens of the city, providing for food, water, comfort, entertainment, and whatever else they desired. Then Durakistad's most arrogant noble announced his intention to allow visitors to join the city if only they would venerate his house with all the faith and fervor one would give to one's church. With this pronouncement, the gods finally grew weary of the city's hubris. They visited seven signs of their displeasure upon Durakistad, and as its citizens ignored or mocked each one, the next grew more dire and ominous. When the citizens used their magic to sweep aside the seventh plague (a flesh-rending wind) with ease, the gods decided to punish the entire city. If they deigned themselves as so great and important, it would be only just that their greatness be preserved for all eternity. With an instant's divine wrath, the gods transformed every person, every animal, and every building in the city to purest gold, and then shrank the city down to the size of a coin, where their splendor could last forever.
The transformation of Durakistad into a coin perpetually imprisoned the citizens of the city, yet did not blunt their awareness. Each of the city's cursed citizens is horribly, painfully aware of the passage of time, and of the passage of their city from uncouth hand to uncouth hand. Their only moments of respite come when someone realizes the true purpose of the coin.
Once per day as a full-round action, a person who holds the coin can transport himself into the coin's pocket dimension, along with any willing creatures (and any gear they carry) within a 20-foot-radius. Once inside this pocket dimension, the user and his allies find themselves in a thriving city with a golden sky -- a utopian paradise where plague, hunger, and warfare do not exist. Only during the visits of the coin's owner can the citizens of Durakistad once again enjoy life. Unfortunately, they must obey the every command and desire of the coin owner, and they can take no actions on their own to engineer their escape or the restoration of their city. Yet they do not treat the coin owner poorly, for to do so invites wrath and a return to horrible conscious imprisonment.
Time spent in Durakistad is not connected to time in the real world. No matter how long visitors remain in the coin city, time does not pass in the real world; when they return, they return to the same location and at the same time as when they activated the artifact. In this way, a group of adventurers can use the coin to rest, regain their spells, and heal wounds. If they bring along the raw materials necessary they can even use their stay in Durakistad to create magic items. Nothing "native" to Durakistad can be taken out into the real world, but objects and people can certainly be stranded there. The coin itself ceases to exist as long as its owner and his allies are staying in the city. Only the one who activated the coin in the first place can transport himself and his allies back to the real world; doing so is a free action for this individual. Any allies who wish to return with him must be within 20 feet of him at the time he activates the coin, otherwise they become stranded in the coin, trapped but conscious just as the citizens of Drakistad are. Stranded creatures cannot escape until someone else uses the coin in the real world to access the city. Citizens of Drakistad cannot be rescued from the city in this way. Since only willing subjects can travel to the coin, using it as a prison for one's enemies is difficult, but if you can trick an enemy to come along for the ride, escape is nigh impossible.
Unfortunately, a hidden danger exists for those who stay in Durakistad. Each day, visitors (but not the owner) must make a successful Will save (DC 10 + 1 per previous check). Failure indicates the victim suffers 1d20 points of Wisdom drain. A character drained to 0 Wisdom is immediately restored to his normal Wisdom score, but she has forevermore become a citizen of Durakistad and cannot escape the coin city until the artifact is destroyed.
The actual method of destroying the Durakistad Coin is unknown; the deities who created it certainly aren't talking. If, however, someone destroys it, the city could simply vanish forever, or it could return to its full glory on the Material Plane. The implications for such a sudden return could be great, especially if Durakistad's location has been resettled!
Overwhelming transmutation; CL 30th.
Elixir of Treasure Finding: Lost cities are ancient places, and more often than not countless adventurers and treasure seekers have explored them. Any items of obvious value were long ago looted in most cases, often leaving only the most hidden treasure vaults and catacombs under the city unspoiled. A particularly greedy sorcerer created the first elixirs of treasure finding since he had neither the patience nor the skill required to seek out by conventional means the treasures he knew were hidden just below his feet.
An elixir of treasure finding appears as a thin runny liquid, often kept in a plain clay or cheap crystal vial. When imbibed, the drinker is overwhelmed with a disorienting feeling of vertigo -- for 1d4 rounds, she is stunned. When this sensation passes, her senses seem more potent. Colors seem more vibrant, sounds seem clearer, and so on; this grants the character a +5 competence bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks.
The elixir's primary function, though, is to point the drinker in the direction of the closest sizable repository of treasure. When the character drinks the elixir, her mind momentarily expands to encompass her surroundings. Any treasure or magic items within 30 feet of the character at the time she drinks are considered too close, and they remain hidden due to the potent magic of the elixir itself.
Beyond this 30-foot radius "eye of the storm," the effects of the elixir extend outward 100 feet per character level of the drinker. The elixir homes in on the nearest sizable treasure horde and imprints the direction and distance to the hoard in the drinker's mind. For purposes of this elixir, a sizable hoard is any treasure hoard of an Encounter Level of 11 or higher, or the gear of an NPC of 8th level or higher. If no such treasure hoard or nonplayer character is located in range, the drinker can still enjoy the skill bonuses for the elixir's duration.
If the imbiber locates a suitable treasure, she can sense the direction and distance the treasure is located at from her current location. This treasure sense provides no indication of any dangers that may lurk along the route to the treasure, and it also does not indicate a path (although the drinker's improved sensory skills should aid in discovering a route). The effects of an elixir of treasure finding persist for only 1 hour, but once they fade, knowledge of the treasure's existence does not.
The wealth of the treasure is overrided by the proximity when the elixir is imbibed; the drinker might be within range of a dozen EL 20 treasures, but if the closest is only an EL 13 treasure, she does not gain any special insight into any other treasures; the elixir locates only a single stash of treasure.
Moderate divination; CL 11th; Craft Wondrous Item, find the path; Price 6,000 gp.
Globe of Danger Detection: This handy, one-shot magic item appears as a 2-inch diameter glass globe filled with sparkling white sand or powder. A globe of danger detection can be thrown up to 30 feet; when it strikes a surface, it shatters and the dust within coats everything in a 10-foot-burst. The dust can detect traps (both mechanical and magical), and it glows softly along triggering mechanisms and other dangerous parts of hidden traps that are located in this burst area. Creatures searching for traps in this area may do so as if they had rogue levels, and they gain a +10 insight bonus on their Search check to find any traps within the area. The dust within remains potent for 1d10 minutes once the item is activated.
Strong divination; CL 20th; Craft Wondrous Item, find traps; Price 2,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Headband of Lore: Adventurers, especially those who intend to explore lost cities, covet headbands of lore. The wearer of a headband of lore gains a +5 competence bonus on all Knowledge checks (including bardic knowledge checks). The wearer must have at least one rank in the Knowledge skill she's using to take advantage of this bonus. Once a day, the wearer can use an analyze dweomer spell. Also once per day, the wearer can perform a legend lore on an item or site by studying it for 1 minute.
Moderate divination; CL 11th; Craft Wondrous Item, identify, legend lore; Price 50,000 gp.
Jade Talon: A jade talon is a gauntlet made of jade slats that cover the wrist and hand. Long, curving jade talons extend out over the fingers. A jade talon functions as a +2 wounding spiked gauntlet, except that it deals slashing damage rather than piercing damage.
Yet the jade talon's most impressive function is tied to its religious roots. A successful DC 25 Knowledge (religion) check reveals that ancient cultists of evil sky spirits or avian deities used the talon; the deities demanded bloody sacrifice from their priests. If a successful hit with a jade talon ever reduces a living creature to negative hit points but does not kill the creature, the talon immediately generates a death knell effect heightened to a 5th-level spell on the victim. A successful DC 17 Will save negates the effects of the death knell, otherwise, the victim is slain as the talons slash into the victim and pierce the heart (if the victim has one). The wearer gains 1d8 temporary hit points and a +2 bonus to Strength, and his caster level increases by +1. These effects last for 10 minutes per Hit Die of the subject creature. Note that the talon's retrieval of the victim's heart occurs with blinding speed -- the gauntlet is off the wearer's hand only for an instant, which allows him to continue with multiple attack sequences if possible.
Jade talons radiate strong evil. Although good creatures can wear them without immediate effects, constant use of the talon should eventually shift the wearer's alignment toward evil.
Moderate necromancy; CL 10th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, death knell, Mordenkainen's sword; Price 72,305 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Jaguar Mask: The extravagantly bejeweled jaguar mask fits over the upper portion of a person's face, leaving the lower jaw exposed. The mask resembles a snarling jaguar's head, but with the lower jaw missing. When worn, the mask takes up the goggle item slot. While worn, the mask grants the wearer low-light vision and a +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity. The wearer may speak with animals (felines only) at will.
Moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Craft Wondrous Item, alter self or wildshape ability, cat's grace, speak with animals; Price 16,000 gp; Weight 2 lb.