Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/30/22: Magic Items of Ancient Egypt

Some magical amulets of Ancient Egypt. (AI art)

Ancient Egypt, I’ve found, is so fascinating on its own that for fantasy writers and worldbuilders there isn’t a lot that needs to be created from scratch. The amulets above, for example, were created in about an hour using text prompts and various AI art generators. And ancient Egyptians did love their amulets. Any significant museum in the world will have a collection these. They were often wrapped up with mummies and magicked for different kinds of protection, but it’s likely they had other uses, as well.

A cursory reading on Ancient Egypt let me know what was important to these people: the rhythms of agriculture, the flooding of the Nile, the afterlife, the gods and goddesses. I think the ancient Egyptians believed they lived alongside the gods; they didn’t inhabit some far-away place like Olympus or Valhalla. Any magic-users among them would have been priests as well, or the priests would also have magic powers. The line between clerical and magic power would have been very blurred. Undead, demons, and devils would have been unknown to them. Only the Egyptian ruling elite, and priests, could read and write, so spellbooks would not be the norm, and as I said above, this would mean charms and amulets would be particularly important. Magic itself would be concerned with protecting the dead, ruling, crafting and building, and agriculture, and of course a few spells for self-defense or warfare.


Magical Items of Ancient Egypt

Amon’s Hearty Bellows: Ancient Egyptian metalsmiths worked with gold, iron, copper, and silver. These bellows, which feature a carving of the ram head of the god Amon on the handles, can quickly heat a forge hot enough to make the more advanced alloys of bronze, brass, and steel. In addition, the bellows protects the user from the flames and heat of the forge.

Cap of Pharaoh Snaaib: This simple head covering of woven reeds has several miraculous properties. 1) It confers maximum intelligence on the wearer and maximum wisdom; 2) allows the wearer to successfully brew any kind of non-magical healing herb tea; and 3) lets the wearer blind enemies by staring forcefully at them.

Heart of Neferku: This evil relic is the ruler’s actual mummified heart, stored in a painted clay jar. It is used to create such indolence, apathy, and lack of ambition in others that they have no defense against becoming the owner’s slaves.

Henna Hyena: This beast is drawn on a part of the magician’s body with henna and then enchanted. When commanded, it will leap out as a living beast under the mage’s control. If killed, it will vanish, but if not, it will go back to being a henna tattoo. The spell lasts as long as the henna inscription does. The hyena is strongest when freshly painted. Higher versions of the spell create a giant hyena and dire hyena.

Lunar Barque: An Egyptian boat, or barque, shaped like the quarter moon and gilded with silver. It can be used to travel through the sky.

Ra’s Whispering Smoke: This special incense, made with pine resin, myrrh, and ambergris, can be used to send messages over long distances. While it is burning, the user whispers a message into the smoke (no more than 50 characters) and visualizes the recipient; the smoke then flies away to wherever they are. The whispered message is delivered when the recipient smells the smoke. Note the spell is not 100% effective. Weather conditions, especially wind and rain, can affect it, and if the recipient cannot smell for some reason – e.g. they have a cold – the message cannot be delivered.

Ring of The Winged Anhk: This magic ring can be used to read the minds of others to find out their greatest desire, and also instill the love or favor of a certain person as the new primary desire of the victim. In other words, a forced love spell. The ring is carved from obsidian and set with gold panels. In one of these is the inlaid image of a winged anhk. On the inside of the ring are hieroglyphics that must be read to activate the love spell. If the writing is read backwards, love turns into hate, and the victim will stop at nothing to destroy the hapless object of their ire.

Scrollbeads: Each bead is the magically compacted form of a papyrus scroll. They are usually strung together on a necklace. In this way, a library’s worth of sacred knowledge can be easily transported on one person.

Shears of Sobek: These enchanted gold scissors sacred to the crocodile god can cut through crocodile hide with ease, enabling it to be made into shoes, bags, and other items.

Sidelock Fellowship: Young Egyptians wear their hair in a sidelock until they come of age. Cut off, enchanted, and preserved, the sidelock becomes a powerful magic item to give to a treasured friend. The two will be linked together until one of them dies, always knowing where the other is and how they are feeling. If the sidelock is destroyed or given away, the bond is broken.

Sistrum of The Vizier: While this magic instrument is played a petitioner’s request to the Pharaoh or Queen receives a higher chance of being granted. The chance depends on the player’s skill and choice of song, so it ranges between 20% to 90%. If the petitioner themselves plays the sistrum, no matter how badly, the chances begin at 50%. Several pharaohs have been dethroned by their ministers in this way.

Talon of Ammit: The Ammit is a creature of the Egyptian underworld that devours evil souls. She has the head of a crocodile, the forequarters of a lioness, and the back end of a hippopotamus. This finely crafted, bronze long knife acts as a  +2 blade with an extra chance of landing a killing blow – i.e., sending a soul to the underworld – with every strike. The blade of the knife is bronze and the handle inlaid with faience, gold, and turquoise.

Tooth of Shu: An amulet carved of a white, ivory-like substance that may or may not be an actual tooth of the Egyptian sky god, but it does allow the owner to levitate themselves and up to six other living creatures or once-living creatures, like mummies. Aerial travel is possible either vertically or horizontally, but not in curves or angles.

Volcanic Obelisk: Built of basalt, obsidian, or any other kind of volcanic stone, this structure stands at least 10’ high. It is carved with magic runes that heat it to the high temperature of lava just ejected from a volcano (2000 degrees F). It is often used to guard an area or thing. The obelisk can radiate heat continuously or be timed to a schedule; it can also be activated under specific circumstances, like someone touches it or the temperature falls below freezing.


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