The pointing bone is a potent magical weapon known to the aboriginal peoples of Australia. Carved from bone in a style appropriate to the tribe making it the weapon, called a kundela by its users, is charged with energy by a magical ritual and then given to an assassin known as a kurdaitcha who tracks down the target, points the bone at him and triggers it with a spoken curse. The assassin then returns to his home camp and ceremonially burns the bone. If the bone functions correctly, the target will soon sicken and die - usually without showing any obvious medical causation. As with many such death curses, it may not function on those from different traditions1.
Traditionally the kundela is only created in response to an offence that requires the death of the offender - presumably the priming ritual is specific to the target (exact details being part of the mysteries of a given tribe) and (aboriginal Australian religion being very animistic) invokes appropriate spirits (presumably including that of any deceased victim) to power the curse. Potentially the failure of a bone pointing might result from the spirits deciding that the target did not deserve to die, as well as from outright mistakes by the ritualists2.
Aborigines from the state of Victoria were also known to use a stone, known as a bulk to deliver a death curse by placing it in the victim's fresh faeces … presumably as a form of sympathetic magic. More prosaic bone-based killing methods known to the native Australians appear to involve bone needles dipped in corpse exudate (presumed to be used to stab the victim and induce a deadly infection)3 or a long bone cannula used to pierce a sleeping victim's pericardium via the hollow of the collarbone.
"The other wiki" on the subject of the kurdaitcha assassins and their weaponry in general.
Game and Story Use
- In mechanical terms, the pointing bone seems to be charm created to store the energy of a death curse - as does the bulk.
- Such things can be re-created for pretty much any culture.
- It may also be that the ritual creates a purpose built spirit that consumes the target's life force.
- Note that these things are target specific, so it's not as though you can have a pocket full of pointing bones like single shot firearms.
- Anthropologically, the requirement for a blood feud to be resolved via ritual magic rather than a more prosaic spear-up-the-bum might be enormously useful, not least as it requires the aggrieved party to first lay out their issues in front of the tribal elders before they can act (since only they are liable to have sufficient knowledge of the tribal mysteries to lead a ceremony).