Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Masks of Gageac

The Masks of Gageac

The magical effects of the Masks of Gageac are quite simple: any two people who wear the masks switch minds with one another for as long as they're worn. Knowledge and skills are retained, although physical attributes (other than hit points) are those of the original host body.

The story of the Masks creation is generally told as follows…

A play was to be performed for the enjoyment of a king on his fiftieth birthday, celebrating his life’s achievements. It was filled with many lengthy monologues, and a few days before the performance was to take place, the lead actor and his understudy had a fight, resulting in the understudy’s death. Though healing priests were brought, the lead actor had suffered permanent injury to his throat. Knowing he could no longer speak his lines, his director scrambled to find a solution to their predicament; they knew that their king was very eager to see the play, and was most fickle and dangerous.

The two were able to enlist the aid of a good magician named Gageac, who had travelled far to see the performance and pay his respect to the king on his birthday. Gageac created the masks, and a willing substitute for the lead was found. When the time came for the play to be performed, the lead and his substitute put on the masks, with the body of the lead now inhabited by the volunteer and waiting just backstage.

The bereaved lover of the understudy struck just as the curtain fell - in revenge, she slit the throat of the one she thought had killed her fiancé. Knowing the punishment she would receive, she quickly took her own life, never realizing that her true target was alive and well but forever trapped in another man’s body.

Ironically, the story of the masks is now itself a popular play and performed in Sarlat, not far from the birthplace of Gageac (which was renamed for him). It’s said that the real Masks of Gageac are also in the Dordogne valley, perhaps hidden in the dungeon below Lord Beynac’s castle, or across the river and possessed by its rival nobles in Castelnaud.

Some danger comes with donning the masks: there is a 10% cumulative chance that the mind transfer is irreversible even after they're taken off. This chance doubles if either participant is unwilling and a mask forced on them, and causes an additional 10% chance of insanity in both.

Mask art above is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and a derivative of a previous work found here.


Trey said...

I could see a lot of uses for this. Good stuff.

-C said...

This is a great magic item!

Barad the Gnome said...

Clever & creative. Well done.

ze bulette said...

Thanks - The inspiration for this came as I flipped through TSR's "The Book of Marvelous Magic" and saw the section on masks.

I think it's a challenging item to use, both by a DM or by players, but that it might create some interesting possibilities.

Originally I saw this as involved in a complicated Romeo/Juliet type of NPC romance that the PCs might get involved in somehow, perhaps arranging forbidden rendevous by utilizing the masks. In another scenario, a jealous, evil NPC dons a mask and forces others to, quickly going insane (and perhaps waiving the "forever stuck" part of the item's description). Basically, a kind of living demon who possesses people in a way (maybe by knocking them out and tying them up while he does so).

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