The Amulet of the Beating Heart appears as a beautifully ornate amulet or choaker, usually warn around the neck, with a large blood ruby set in the middle. While it appears to most to be naught more than an exquisite fashion piece, it is in actuality a powerful magic item that allows it’s wearer to stave off death through most means.
An amulet of the beating heart can only be activated if it is not linked to any other person. Once an amulet is linked to someone, the only way it can become unlinked is through the death of the possessor or destruction of the amulet. The bond between the amulet and the wearer functions across any distance, no matter how great. If separated, the linked creature knows what direction the amulet is in, but receives no other information about the distance or possessor. If the amulet is brought to another plane or rests in an extradimension or nondimensions space, the linked creature knows that it has not been destroyed, but does not know where it resides.
Upon activation, the wearer immediately and permanently loses 2 hit points. These hit points can not be recovered through any means. Once activated, the amulet functions as if a permanent nondetection spell were cast upon it.
If the wearer is reduced to negative hit points, they are rendered unconscious, but are not considered dead. They heal at a rate equal to their natural healing rate as if they received a full night’s rest (1 hit point per character level) and only regain consciousness upon reaching 1 hit point. Even if the body is dismembered or disintegrated, the amulet will form a new body for you (although any equipment destroyed or stolen while unconscious will not be reformed) and you will awaken once you reach 1 hit point.
For someone wearing an active amulet of the beating heart, death can only be achieved through ability damage that reduces their Con to zero, old age or being reduced to -10 hit points or lower at a point where the amulet is suppressed (such as with dispel magic or an anti-magic field). If an amulet is destroyed, the wearer is subject to death through all normal means appropriate for their type (and immediately dies if they are at -10 or lower at the time of destruction).
Strong necromancy and conjuration; CL 18th; Craft Wondrous Item, false life, magic jar, resurrection, regenerate; Market price: 185,000 gp.
Cost to create: 92,500gp, 7,400 XP, permanent loss of 4 hit points
Using The Amulet of the Beating Heart In Your Campaign
Over the centuries that the amulet has been used and suffused with the life force of countless users. It has gained a degree of sentience and a will of it’s own. Armed with an ego and the ability to influence the person linked to it, it’s able to impart it’s desires over them. With no way to unlink themselves from the amulet, it’s only a matter of time before the wielder becomes a vessel for the amulet’s desires.
The force that made the amulet aware was a small part of the soul from untold numbers of willing people. While these people represent all degrees of good and evil, they all shared one thing that was amplified by the amulet – the desire to live forever, even at the cost of great sacrifice. As such, the amulet’s primary focus is to empower the creature it possesses and ensure that it is able to protect the amulet at cost.
The amulet has an ego score of 18. It does not communicate with the creature it’s linked to directly and simply manifests it’s will in the form of compulsions or suggestions. If it’s not able to gain a hold on the creature any given day, it merely quietly waits until it’s next chance. The amulet has outlived every creature it’s ever been aware of and time is of no real concern to it.
This item can be the centerpiece of an NPC’s power and allows them to return after continued defeats by the PCs. It could also be obtained by the PCs without them knowing what it is – which causes a powerful NPC to try to get it back from them since he is linked to it. A PC could even put the amulet on, being unaware of the full nature of the amulet.