While looking over the rules for Ioun Stones a question came to mind. What inspired the Ioun Stone?

It is present in nearly all editions of D&D, and also made it into Pathfinder. This Pathfinder part intrigues me, as it indicates that the Stones and the name were probably heavily inspired by an outside source. What was that source?


The Ioun Stone comes from Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, which is where the "fire and forget" spell casting of D&D came from too, as well as some of the spells such as prismatic spray. The stones are harvested from the core of neutron stars that are being sliced away by the Nothing at the edge of the universe and are therefore rare and difficult to obtain. Their origin is dealt with in the story "Morreion" in the collection Rhialto the Marvelous.

They were introduced in The Strategic Review, Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 10 (Winter 1975; no author given, although there is a reference to Vance approving the design/inclusion and I know he and Gygax corresponded) and first made their way into the rulebooks with the original DMG, as far as I can see.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have not read any of Vance's novels myself, but from what I understand if you thought Wizards were hilarious in 3rd edition, there are characters in Vance's novels that make those Wizards look like parlor magicians. I believe a friend told me about a scene where two wizards were playing an ordinary card game, like poker, and they both ended up casting Time Stop in an effort to beat the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Lucas Leblanc Nov 13 '14 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's about right; they're keen on time stop. The great wizards are immortal and generally thousands of years old. There are lesser mages and montebanks knocking around, of course. \$\endgroup\$ – Nagora Nov 13 '14 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Jeanry Chandler et al.'s Primer of Practical Magic (2003) from Pelgrane Press includes Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition versions of many of Vance's Dying Earth concepts, including an additional 50 ioun stones (albeit crammed onto 1 page). Jonathan Drain's "Ioun Stone Complete Guide" hunts down every ioun stone in Dungeons and Dragons, regardless of edition. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 20 '14 at 22:49

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