The Heart of Ahriman

Contributed by: Thulsa ()

"And the altar seemed to stand in the heart of a living fire which pulsed and shimmered, dripping flakes of quivering golden flame on the black stones about it. This dazzling glow emanated from a great red jewel which lay upon the altar, and in the reflection of which the priests looked ashy and corpse-like." -- Robert E. Howard: "The Hour of the Dragon"

The Heart of Ahriman

This amulet appears as a large, crystalline gem, intricately faceted and glowing from within.

The origin of the Heart of Ahriman is shrouded in the mists of time. Whether it was crafted on Earth or merely brought here from across the black gulfs between the stars is unknown. Lemurians brought it from the East and used it to establish the sorcerous empire of Acheron. Thereafter, the jewel was kept in the empire's capital city, Python, although some claim it was held in Old Stygia for a time.

Three millenia later, Acheron fell to Hyborian barbarians. The end came when Hyborian shamans stole the sacred jewel from Python, forcing its high priest, Xaltotun, to flee south to Stygia. Since then, none have ever seen the Heart of Ahriman.

Note: After Conan became king of Aquilonia, plotters resurrected Xaltotun. Black sorcery defeated Conan's army; Conan was imprisoned, and the exile Valerius took his throne. Escaping from a dungeon with the aid of the harem girl Zenobia, Conan learned from the priests of Asura that Xaltotun's power could be broken only by means of the Heart of Ahriman. The trail of the jewel led to a pyramid in the Stygian desert outside black-walled Khemi. Winning the Heart of Ahriman, Conan returned to face his foes. See "Conan the Conqueror", originally published as "The Hour of the Dragon".

The powers of the Heart are not completely known. In the words of Xaltotun: "My necromantic knowledge is greater than the sum of all the knowledge of other men, yet I do not know the full power of the jewel."

However, a few of its powers include magic resistance, the ability to bring the dead to life as mummies and give the mummy the illusory semblance of life. This life is a sham, however, and the holder of the Heart can withdraw it at any time.

The Heart of Ahriman is an artifact with the following powers:

  • Grants its possessor Spell Resistance 25.
  • Create Greater Undead (1/day). Functions at 20th level of ability. At the caster's option, this power can also mimic a Create Undead spell.
  • Resurrection (1/week). It functions at 20th level of ability, but there is no limit on the age of the creature resurrected. As stated, the holder of the Heart can dispel the effect at any time, instantly killing a creature that has been resurrected by the jewel. Using this power does not age or weaken the holder of the Heart.

The Heart of Ahriman will undoubtedly reveal other powers, as determined by the DM.