Clockwork Wonders01/15/2007

The Spellsong Nightingale
Part 8 of 14

The song echoed down the stony corridor, quiet but always winkling its way into Thondred's mind. "That damn bird keeps getting away from us." The bird's song cut through the corridor like sunlight after rain, golden notes dropping into the shadows.
"Pretty, isn't it?" said Ember.
"It's enchanting your feeble excuse for a brain, yes," said Thondred. "I recommend you wear those earplugs I gave you before it's too late."
"What?" said Mialee. "I can't hear you through these earplugs."

The spellsong nightingale is a wizard's spellbook given the form of a delicate bird that both holds some of his spells and that wards its owner with magical song. It is believed always to require a collaboration between an arcane caster willing to sacrifice some of his hard-won knowledge and an artificer seeking to empower something rather unusual.


This bird is made of gold, silver, brass, and sometimes enameled in bright colors or even decorated with real feathers. It always has gems for eyes and an ivory or horn beak. Its wings flap normally, and its claws can grasp a perch. While this type of clockwork bird is usually called a nightingale (and uses song as part of its arcane energies), sometimes it resembles a golden finch, a red cardinal, a green-and-yellow lovebird, or some other relatively showy songbird. Its motion elegantly and perfectly mimics the type of bird it resembles.

If sold only for its workmanship and materials, a spellsong nightingale is worth 2,000 gp. This is fairly common with nightingales that have been abandoned; they don't move or speak until someone recognizes them, claims them as their own, and commands them to sing. A few have been found among soldier companies, serving as mascots for a squadron or company.

Use and Powers

The spellsong nightingale can contain four 1st level spells or two 2nd level spells, plus a warding song and an enchanting song. The warding song and the enchanting songs can be 1st level, 2nd level, or 3rd level arcane spells. Most common protective songs are protection from evil/good/chaos/law, protection from arrows, shield, resist energy, or nondetection. If a spellsong nightgale is made with enchanting songs, the most common are calm emotions, crushing despair, charm monster, charm person, deep slumber, enthrall, good hope, touch of idiocy, or sleep.

The owner activates the nightingale as a free action, and it then sings (casts) the requested song at 5th caster level. Casting silence on a spellsong nightingale prevents it from generating its spell effects. In addition, the spellsong nightingale can sing a number of non-magical songs and can "remember" short passages up to 500 words that it is taught. For example, the nightingale could recite (in a sing-song way) a poem or a eulogy. It cannot activate magical items, even if taught the command words.

A spellsong nightingale can sing spells a total of 25 times before needing to be recharged. Recharging it requires 250 gp of diamond dust and 10 XP per charge; the songs cannot be changed during the recharging process.

CL 12th; Craft Construct, Scribe Scroll, Craft (metalworking), fly, imbue with spell ability; Price 26,250 gp; Cost 13,125 gp + 1,050 XP.

Spellsong Nightingale CR -
Always N Diminutive Construct
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +4, Spot +4
Languages Common (cannot speak)

AC 17, touch 16, flat-footed 15
(+2 Dex, +4 size, +1 natural)
hp 6 (1 HD); hardness 2
Immune mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic effects, critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, energy drain, any effect that requires a Fort save (unless it affects objects)
Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0

Speed fly 40 ft. (average)
Space 2 1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Base Atk +0; Grp -17

Abilities Str 1, Dex 14, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 2
SQ construct traits, stored spells
Feats Alertness
Skills Hide +14, Listen +4, Spot +4

Stored Spells (Sp) A spellsong nightingale can cast one of its stored spells each round at the command of its owner, as long as it has charges remaining. It casts spells as a 5th level sorcerer.

Campaign Hooks

Spellsong nightingales were popular among the wealthiest of Cyran dilettantes. Some are believed to have survived the Day of Mourning, and there is a persistent story that they are capable of remembering human voices and mimicking them. A Cyran might wish the party to enter the Mournland to recover an especially beloved spellsong nightingale that contained such a potent, sentimental value of the voice of a husband, wife, or child.

A priest of the Sovereign Host might also wish for the party to recover such a bird that was looted by soldiers during the Last War. The bird not only sang sweetly, attracting the curious to attend services at the temple, but it also provided some protection against violence along the lawless frontiers of the kingdoms. The bird is currently held by a group of monstrous humanoids, who find it charming and are under the bird's sway. Unlike most spellsong nightingales, this one was created with enough intelligence to act on its own, and it has become a ringleader of banditry. If its charmed followers are taken away...

About the Author

Wolfgang Baur writes short fiction and long adventures. He discusses the rules of adventure design and writes tailored modules for patrons of the Open Design blog, and he offers freewheeling freelance observations at the Monkey King blog.

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