If you fail at reading a scroll, inscription, or magical tome, it is likely because decay has eroded some necessary words and the remaining, corrupted text has a chance of giving you Cave Carbuncles. These terrible, boil-like growths emerge from the head and each (1d4) prevents the memorization of a spell.
Of course, getting case of cave carbuncles might not be all bad. Get a barber-surgeon to carefully excise the core of the blisters and you can extract an equal number of carbuncles of the gemstone variety, each of which will glow with a diffuse reddish light that illuminates as well as a lantern. Their size and value vary based on the potency of the spell slot they'd previously been blocking.
Rumors of greedy master wizards deliberately infecting apprentices and even journeymen with cave carbuncles to harvest these stones are surely untrue, merely the kind of baseless calumny leveled by those jealous of their superiors.
I like the idea of consequences for misreading magical writings - "I warn ya: Don't fumble it reading the runes, maaaaaan!"ReplyDelete
But is this something that only happens when you read them underground, where interlopers from the surface are especially vulnerable to the corrupting magical radiations of the Mythic Underworld?
If not, instead of the nicely alliterative Cave Carbuncles, you'd have to have some kind of meh term for this condition, since it can occur in surface-world old libraries, too.
But I like it as something that only happens in the depths of the Underworld. Dick McGee's silver lining in the curse is good in that it shows more of the "We're not in Kansas/the Keep on the Borderlands anymore" weird radiations suffusing the Underworld.
Thanks so much for these great comments.ReplyDelete
@Dick: I like the idea of value tied to the spell level. Presumably higher level Must would fail readings less, so these could be very rare macguffins.
@Karel: Yeah, I didn't think, but my name was kind of limiting. Maybe the condition for above world scholars could be called Scholar Barnacles :) And inside of them are blackened coal like nodules that can be ground into magic ink.
*"higher-level Magic Users"Delete