The item is said to have once been worn by the great prophet RMS himself, and that he fashioned it with the aid of the Servers. It’s seldom worn now, although occasionally the Chairman of The Beards (the sect’s ruling council) will make secret use of it in order to root out subterfuge.
It’s also lent to high level members who are questing on behalf of the council. At such times, a great deal of publicity is generated and a demonstration of its powers arranged. With skill, the volume adjustment can be made in such a way that when the hands are cupped around the ear and directed, sounds as quiet as a whisper can be heard very clearly though hundreds of feet away.
Many donations are typically generated in this manner, although the entire spectacle takes some preparation and skill to organize in order to minimize mishaps - one questing cleric was permanently deafened in one ear when a baby began wailing at a critical moment.
There are, of course, many more of these items that were used by the ancients - as The Beards well know. It’s been politically expedient to portray this item as unique though, and likely that the initials of RMS were scratched into it in more recent times.
~This “magic” item of the ancients appears to need no power source. It will allow the user, with practice, to listen to sounds as far away as 300’ with some precision. Care should be taken if used in such a way - it will not work in an environment with a great deal of ambient noise, and sudden and very loud sounds that occur can harm the user or permanently damage his hearing. If continuously worn, the volume can be adjusted so that any surprise rolls against the wearer (or her immediate company) will need to be re-rolled a second time to succeed.
Dedicated to my friend Paul, who just received a cochlear implant.