Here’s an enchanted item associated with a number of legendary medieval magicians, particularly Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus.
A Brazen Head appears to be a sculpture of a humanoid head, crafted of brass or bronze and with an articulated jaw. Sometimes the eyes and eyelids are also articulated, although usually they are not. These heads vary in scale, from life size (and thus portable) to gigantic examples which are permanently installed in an area.
A Brazen Head is inhabited by a twisted spirit of prophesy. Once per day the head may be asked a question, which it will answer in an audible voice. A Brazen Head will only answer a given individual once concerning a particular topic. The answer to the question will always be true, but will also almost always be mocking or deceptive in some way. Therefore, great care must taken when consulting a Brazen Head, lest the questioner be led astray. For example, if a Brazen Head is asked if an adventure will be a success it may answer “A great treasure will be acquired by the party of brave adventurers”, meaning that the characters will be ambushed and killed by a group of rival adventurers who steal the characters’ treasure for themselves .
The knowledge of the manufacture and activation of Brazen Heads is widely disseminated by Infernal agents. The materials needed are quite common, and the actual construction is surprisingly easy. The diabolical devices are intended to be temptations and torments for mortal men, forever mocking them with the possibility of perfect knowledge. Accordingly, every so often a Brazen Head will give a perfectly clear and reliable answer, just so its owners do not lose all hope and faith in the device. The Infernal inventors of the devices do not wish that mankind’s downfall be too easy, but rather a protracted series of near successes and possible triumphs leading to a final, ultimate doom.
From time to time a Brazen Head may spontaneously utter oracular statements without having been first consulted. These statements will always be such that they torment the device’s owner in some way, speaking of missed opportunities and horrible events about which the listener can do nothing.
A Brazen Head has a 1% chance per use of simply blowing up, inflicting 1d4 points of damage to all in a 10 foot radius.
Value: 8,500gp (but costs just 500gp to make) Experience: 3,000
Adventure Seed: In the midst of a terrible plague, a strange old man enters town selling the plans to build a Brazen Head. Both the Baron’s court magician and the Mother Superior of the local convent of the Goddess of Mercy have been unable to find a cure for the disease, so the Baron purchases the instructions and has his magician construct the head. The adventurers are employed to track down the objects that the court magician believes are needed to cure the plague. Unfortunately, the old man who sold the device was a disguised demon. The court magician has unwisely asked the Brazen Head “How can I stop the plague from infecting any more people?” Once the adventures assemble all the objects that the Brazen Head calls for the plague will indeed be unable to spread – because a powerful demon will be released from imprisonment and proceed to slaughter the entire Barony!