Tuesday Magic Item – Marnix’s Quill

8 November, 2011

While the sound of quill writing on parchment was not an unfamiliar sound, watching the pen write without a person to direct itwas a little unsettling.  “Ignore it, Poul,” said my host, “it will be done soon.  It is just copying a letter for my friend, the Duke of

Quill Pen

Quill Pen

Autumn.  If I send them to enough of his houses, one of them finds him.”

My uncle corresponded with many powerful and high placed men, but his animated pens I had not grown used to even after half a year in his house.

Marnix’s Quill

This well kept swan quill pen has seen use but is still very serviceable, a few are stained with a few drops of ink at the end.

The most basic ability of Marnix’s quill is that it does not wear out from use, it keeps writing even rough paper or other writing surfaces will not damage it (though using it to write on stone or other unsuitable materials may).  Once a day, when placed on a book or scroll and a command phrase is spoken and then it is placed on a blank stack of paper (or other material to write on) it will copy from one to the other as long as it has ink to write with and blank material to write on.  If the command phrases are spoken in the language of the idea to be copies and then in the language to be copied to, the copy will be a translation (though this translation will only be as good as the owner of the quill’s knowledge of the languages involved).

A few of the quills have an additional power, those with the ink stained ends which are Coding Quills.  With the proper command phrase, it will copy over a letter (or a document of similar length) into a totally innocuous letter, which can be ‘decoded’ only by another of the coding quills.  The ability to code or decode a letter can be used up to three times a day,

Aura moderate divination and transmutation; CL 3rd
Slot none; Price 1,500; Weight
Requirements Create Wondrous Items, arcane mark, comprehend languages, mage armor, mage hand, mending; Cost 750 (+60 xp for D&D)

For a Coding Quill: CL 5th, Price 7,500; Requirements add secret page; Cost 3,750 (+300 xp for D&D)

Adventure Seed: A young clerk, and friend of one of the characters, has lost the coding quill entrusted to him.  Now it must be found and retrieved or he will lose more than his post.

Notes: Inspired by Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde, statesman, writer, translator and cryptographer.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.


  1. A useful item–and with a built in history lesson. 🙂

    • Inspiration comes from all around, but for me, usually from history.

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