Tuesday Magic Item – Cephalophore Nail

7 October, 2014

Carrying his own head.The early wars of the Savogid Republic were a desperate and difficult time for the nation, they faced many enemies and the new Republic was forced to draft many of its able-bodied citizens to fill the ranks.  The Silver College of Necromagy did what they could to help, but raising the dead to fight was considered unwholesome -unless asked by the person beforehand- but they could use their talents to ensure that the slain returned home for proper burial.

Thus was born the Cephalophore Nail and it was offered to all those going to war for the Republic, ultimately over half accepted them even though having them used was a painful process as they knew if would give comfort to their loved ones.  The return of those brought back to their final resting place by the power of a Cephalophore Nail soon became the basis of many a sad song and story as the republic’s losses continued to mount.

The use of a group of cephalophores by General VaLaMarch to act as a tactical distraction during the Battle of the West Bird Fields which turned that battle into a major Republican victory made the acceptance of the nail almost universal in the closing days of the early wars.

Cephalophore Nail

These small nails are made of silver, or silver plated tin depending on the era, with a fiendishly complex rune stamped on the head.  To be activated they must be attached to living bone, usually at the base of the skill but some prefer the shoulder blade, collar bone or hip of a willing person.

Once the nail has been affixed to bone, a process that inflicts one point of Constitution and Charisma damage, the nail waits for the death of the person it is attached to.  The following dawn or dusk, whichever happens first, the body animates, gathers its pieces and marches home at a quick rate.  The body does not rot or decay while it is in transit and it remains mobile for two days plus a number of days equal to the higher of the former being’s Wisdom or Charisma modifier (minimum zero).

The animated body only seeks to return home, taking the most direct route.  It will only fight if restrained, even those who attack it will only be brushed aside as it continues on its way.  Treat the animated body as a zombie with the fast zombie template (but not the quick strikes ability) and with a Channel Resistance equal to their level before death.

Aura faint necrourgy; CL 5th
Slot – ; Price 250; Weight
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, animate dead, expeditious retreat, gentle repose, locate object; Cost 125

Notes: Cephalophore (from the Greek for “head-carrier”) is a term used for a saint who is generally depicted carrying his or her own head, it was just too interesting of a concept to leave to saints and here is is adapted.  I learned of it from Saint Osgyth whose feast day is today.

Photo by Guillaume Blanchard (Aoineko), found in Wikimedia Commons and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.





  1. Fun and educational!

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