Thursday, May 24, 2012

[Sixth Age] Anunnaki Temple

#8: ANUNNAKI TEMPLE. The Anunnaki Temple is the State Religion of the Kingdom of Stockton and the duchies of Merced, Fresno, and Vizaylia. It is also found in the Ten Towns, Bispo, and of course, among the enslaved and oppressed populace of the territories of the Sanwakeen occupied by the Outlaw Orcs. It is a primarily Lawful Neutral faith, focusing on societal order and continuation of tradition above all other things. The Temple has its origins in the Dark Age, when Modesto farmer Sahmyool Badahl, since known as the Holy Prophet Gilmar, first heard the whispers of Bel-Marduk, the Lord of 50 Names. The Holy Prophet was descended from an ancient line of Assyrians who had settled in the region generations ago. Due to their unified cultural heritage and survival traits learned in the generation before the Change, the Assyrians of Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, and neighboring towns had thrived, and were one of the few cultures not completely assimilated and/or dominated by the Anglos.

Following their return to Earth upon the advent of the Change, Marduk, as King of Heaven and Earth of the Anunnaki (Mesopotamian Gods), sought to expand his pantheon’s influence beyond the Middle East. Preferring to seek out descendents of his old peoples, he found a willing prophet and needful people in the Sanwakeen Valley. As the Anglo peoples of the valley were hard pressed at that time by the advancing Aztlán Empire (see 30, below), the words of the new prophet fell on eager ears, while the application of his and his disciples mystical powers buoyed hungry souls.

From Modesto the Word of Marduk spread, and within a generation pretty much the entire Anglo population of the valley had been converted to the way of Marduk. It was fairly easy for most to make the jump from the fractured remnants of the Christian faiths that remained to the theology of Marduk; after all, they had much in common, both originating in the same Middle Eastern theological stew. Marduk and his fellow gods took advantage of this in adapting their own theologies to the beliefs already in place. The cultural anomie that existed at the time, which the Prophet rightfully compared to “undirected waters of Tiamat,” were reigned in by “old time religion,” complete with tent revivals.

Marduk, a stern warrior god, appealed to those whose ancestors had mostly followed the stern, conservative form of Old Testament Christianity that dominated the Anglo culture of the Sanwakeen. Many of the forms of the former faith were adopted, including the basic hierarchy, complete with names and trappings (adjusted to the favored colors and forms of the Anunnaki, with variations based on the old Orthodox faith of the Assyrians). At first the priesthood was kept only within the families of Assyrian descent, though as the faith spread this became impossible, and the only remnant of this today is the naming traditions of the priesthood (taking a traditional Assyrian name) and the use of Old Assyrian as a liturgical tongue, written in an artificial script developed from the old Cuneiform (taught only to the priests).

These are the Seven Commandments of the faith:
1)         Thou shalt honor thy Gods in word and in deed and keep holy the House of the Gods and their Idols;
2)         Thou shalt keep holy the Seventh Day;
3)         Thou shalt honor thy parents, thy elders, and thy ancestors;
4)         Thou shalt not murder;
5)         Thou shalt not commit adultery;
6)         Thou shalt not steal; and
7)         Thou shalt not lie.

In the new temple there were Seven Great Gods:
1)         Marduk, King of Heaven and Earth, Son of Enki and Ninhursag, Husband of Zarpanit, Father of Nabu [LN];
2)         Ishtar, Lady of Love and War, Granddaughter of Enlil, Daughter of Sin and Ningal, Sister of Irkalla and Shamash [N];
3)         Enki, Lord of Wisdom, Crafts, and Magic, Father of Marduk, Husband of Ninhursag [LN];
4)         Ninhursag, Lady of Milk, Honey, and Earth, Wife of Enki [N]
5)         Shamash, Lord of the Sun and Law, Son of Sin and Ningal, Brother of Irkalla and Ishtar [LN];
6)         Irkalla, Lady of Death and the Underworld, Daughter of Sin and Ningal, Sister of Ishtar and Shamash [N];
7)         Enlil, Lord of Wind, Waters, and Grains, Husband of Ninlil, Father of Sin and Nergal, Grandfather  of Irkalla, Ishtar, and Shamash [LN]

The god Nergal [NE], King of Hell, Lord of the Damned, son of Enlil and former husband/uncle of Irkalla, is the Great Enemy of the faith. He is served by Druaga the King of Devils. Where exactly the two fall in the ranks of the Nine Hells is unknown, but it is known that there is no love lost between Asmodeus and Nergal.

There is also especial enmity with the gods of the Aztlán, though with Nergal’s resurgence in Bakersfiel that more recent enmity has taken a back seat to all other considerations.

Others of the old Babylonian/Sumerian/Chaldean/Assyrian pantheon are revered through the Temple; the oldest powers have mostly faded into the background, but there are still small shrines to placate the old ones. Hundreds of other, Lesser Gods are revered in the Temple; each possible craft, occupation, and activity has a patron deity. Each hamlet, village, town, and city has its own patron god or deities. Often major locations have a patron deity. Sometimes these patrons are also counted among the Great Gods; for example, Enlil is also a patron god of the city of Stockton, while Marduk is a patron of the city of Modesto, and Shamash and Ninhursag are counted as patrons of Fresno. Ancestor worship also features strongly in the faith.

Girru is a prominent minor deity of the pantheon. He is the patron of fire and metallurgy, a protector against sorcery, and also functions as the messenger of the gods, as he is not tied to any one place or even many places; he is and can be anywhere. He has become the special patron of the Order of the Burning Blade, a fraternity of paladins dedicated to rooting out chaos and evil. While the paladins of the order themselves are required by their faith to wander, each serves for a time upon the Great Northern Wall that guards against the things from the Hell Pit of Sacrament.

The clergy of the temple is divided into three groups: Priests/Priestesses, Monks/Nuns, and Presbyters. Priests are attached to a temple, monks are attached to a monastery, and presbyters are wandering preachers and protectors. Most PC clerics are of the presbyter branch. Each member of the clergy must choose one of the seven Great Gods as a patron god; only women may choose Ishtar, Ninhursag, and Irkalla as their patrons, while only men may choose Marduk, Enki, Shamash, or Enlil as their patrons.

There are seven Archpriests per diocese, one for each of the Great Gods, while there is a single Bishop ruling the diocese. A Hegumenos (Abbot) is the leader of a monastery; all the hegumons in a diocese answer to the Archimandrite, who himself answers to the bishop. There is also a Prelate in each diocese, a settled presbyter who acts on behalf of any presbyters who happen to be in the diocese at the time; the prelates also answer to the bishop of their diocese. Above all is the Patriarch, who resides in Modesto and is the Bishop of Modesto. The seven dioceses of the Temple, in descending order of precedence, are Modesto, Stockton, Mersed, Fresno, Vizaylia, Montray (in exile), and Bakersfiel (empty). All the major temples in the kingdom are served by all three branches of the clergy.

Clergy within the kingdom can only be tried by the hierarchy; any crimes committed by a member of the clergy are tried by the seven Archpriests of the diocese in which the crime was supposed to have been committed. The archpriest of the accused must recuse him or herself from the proceedings, with the bishop taking the place of the archpriest in the jury. The prelate must act as the prosecutor, while the archimandrite must act as the defender; both may turn these duties over to trusted subordinates with the approval of a majority of the jury.

Outside of the seven dioceses the various temples of the Anunnaki Temple are considered autocephalous, with each Archpriest managing the affairs of his or her own temple, answerable only to the Patriarch in matters theological and temporal. Often these temples are founded by a presbyter who, after converting a new group of the faithful, sends letters to the Prelate of Modesto asking to have priest and monks sent to tend to the daily needs of the new flock. The presbyter is then promoted to the rank of Protopresbyter, and is expected to remain with his new temple until such time as the gods call him to again begin his wanderings, at which point the foremost of the archpriests of the temple becomes the High Priest.

Clergy may use the following weapons based on their patron deity:

Marduk: Mace, short bow, net, dagger.
Ishtar: Mace, staff, sling.
Enki: Mace, staff, sling.
Ninhursag: Mace, short bow.
Shamash: Mace, staff, dagger, sling.
Irkalla: Scythe, chakram.
Enlil: Mace, footman’s pick, sling.

Animal, symbol, colors, and gems of the Great Gods are:

Marduk: Wingless gold dragon, five-pointed star, gold, diamond.
Ishtar: Lion, eight-pointed star, blue, sapphire.
Enki: Ibex, seven-pointed star, green, emerald.
Ninhursag: Cow, omega, brown, amber.
Shamash: Falcon, four-pointed star, red, ruby.
Irkalla: Owl, eclipsed sun, black, jet.
Enlil: Seagull, mattock (footman’s pick), white, pearl.

Clergy normally wear a long white wraparound kilt, the hem line covered in prayers written in cuneiform in the color of their patron deity; the kilt is cinched with a girdle, also of the color of their patron deity. Presbyters usually wear a white tabard over their armor, the hem covered as above.

The actually physical temples of the Anunnaki Temple are great ziggurats, where the public temple is found atop the ziggurat, the inner sanctums and treasuries of the temple are found within and below the ziggurat, and the living and working spaces of the clergy are found in the compound around the ziggurat. Many temple complexes are built as solidly as castles, and have been used as such in the past.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

[Sixth Age] Free City of Sanrafayl, Home of the Corsairs

#7: FREE CITY OF SANRAFAYL. The “Free City” actually consists of a number of small settlements on the north-western shore of Frisko Bay and into the lower vales of the Tamahleepahs Hills: Sanrafayl, Fairfax, Hross, Greenbray, Larkspur, Milvale, Marin City, and Tiburon, with all but the “Free City” itself being modest villages or hamlets. The Free City was originally part of the Elven Reserve of Sanrosa, a special domain formed by the Empire as a home for the Elves who wished to live separately from Humans and other races. As Sanrosa and most of the surrounds were held by the Elves anyway, it was already a fait accompli, with the Empire merely recognizing a simple reality that would be difficult to change. However, when the Empire formed the Reserve, the Marin Peninsula had already long been home to mixed families of Humans and Half-Elves; the Elves, being their relatives, graciously allowed them to remain. Sanrafayl itself was one of the few “open towns” of the Reserve, where non-Elves could come to trade and meet with the Elves, so its already very Human side eventually grew such that few Elves, and not even many Half-Elves, lived there. As the Elves also ruled the town with a light hand, not caring much what the foreigners did to each other as long as they respected the Elves and their local allies, the port town came to gain an unsavory reputation as a meeting place for pirates, smugglers, thieves, and others who wanted to do business out from under the eyes of the Imperial Police.

Thus, when one of the factions of the Last Civil War sought to use the peoples of Sanrafayl to their advantage, they offered them some interesting terms: letters of marque and reprisal, transforming the local scruffy bunch of buccaneers and pirates into “legal” privateers. While the faction that offered them the letters was destroyed along with the rest of the Imperial court, the residents of Sanrafayl held onto their new-found “respectability,” and to this day there remains an “Imperial Legate” in the town who grants these letters to the official “Corsairs” of the town; fees required for the letters go to the city of course, as do the fees imposed on various and sundry cities and towns for recognition by Sanrafayl of their vessels as holding the protection of the “Official Imperial Registry of Ships.” Ten Towns, the Duchy of Bispo, and the Imperial Chartered Merchants Guild of Mazatlan are the only three states that are known have paid this fee regularly, and thus pretty much any and all other shipping is open to the “privateers.” The Grey Havens and the various vessels of Sanrosa and Reyez are held sacrosanct; they are not necessarily allies, but the corsairs do come to the aid of the Elves if they have troubles. The ships of Stockton are a favored prey, usually left to sail on their way after a payment of a tax based on the goods carried; it’s a goose that lays a silver egg usually, but the privateers are not foolish enough to kill it. The Outlaw Orc ships of Montray, the Viking ships of Sohlvang, the devil ships of Lost Angels, and the slaving vessels of Aztlán and Crescent City are shown no mercy;  their men are slaughtered and the ships taken as prizes, if possible. Between official city ships and the ships of the chartered corsairs Sanrafayl has twice as many ships as any other seafaring power north of Mazatlan.

Politically, Sanrafayl is sovereign from the Republic of Reyez; when Reyez broke away from Sanrosa, Sanrafayl broke away from Reyez. Sanrafayl City is a large town, with all the amenities expected for a piratical form of life; thus it is mostly made up of taverns, casinos, flop houses, and brothels. Just about anything can be found in the port except for slaves; it is said that the Elves required that slavery be forbidden as the cost of the sovereignty of the city. Most ships are built in the hamlet ports, especially Tiburon and Marin City, from the fine wood traded by the Elves. Angel Island is held by the corsairs as a redoubt; it is said that there are tunnels and vast caverns within the island that are home to allied submarine creatures, including a dragon turtle. The chartered Corsairs fly red sails with the white Sea Dawg badge; official city ships fly checked blue and gold sails with an alternating Trojan head.

The city is ruled by the Council of Captains; these are all retired corsairs who own property in the city and still own at least one ship. The Council of Corsairs, that is, ship captains who have letters of marque, acts as an advisory board. The Council of Captains appoints a mayor (rarely a former captain himself, usually a respected businessman) to run the town on a day-to-day basis. In times of war, they elect one of their own or one of the corsairs as Admiral, effectively a general-and-dictator for the duration of the war. Naturally, the bulk of the pay of the civil servants of Sanrafayl is through bribes, which are perfectly legal and expected.

Monday, May 21, 2012

[Sixth Age] The Great Fen

#6: THE GREAT FEN. The Great Fen is actually not a fen at all, but instead a mixture of swamp and marshlands created by the confluence of the Sacrament and Sanwakeen rivers. In the Fifth Age, the great delta had been tamed and divided into islands used for farming. Most of the dams and levees collapsed during the Dark Age, flooding the delta once again and transforming it into the modern mix of swamp and marsh. This process was exacerbated and the fenlands expanded after a great quake during the Dark Age changed many of the channels and greatly transformed the near-delta river courses. The relatively small amount of water management performed by the Stockton Temple of Marduk for their farming needs in the centuries since has hardly had any effect at all on the fen.

At some early point in the Dark Age, a race of Lizardmen, likely from the Sacrament Hell Pit, settled in the fenlands. During the Golden Age of Fusang they were recognized as an official, legal race, rather than as monsters, and the core of the Fen was delineated as their own Imperial Reserve, much as the Dwarves, Elves, and Hobbits received their own reservations. The treaty with the Lizardfolk ensured uninterrupted travel for ships between Frisko Bay and Stockton… provided they remained along the delineated course via the major rivers. Never much for “civilization,” the Lizardmen of the Fen remained xenophobic and isolationist, with a handful of their more cultured brethren handling all the political and economic relations with the Empire from the small port town of Grizlee Bay, in the westernmost part of the Fen known as the Suhsoon Marsh.

The town is built upon the waters of the bay, using the rusting hulks of Ancient warships as artificial islands. As the Lizardfolk faith requires that no non-Lizardfolk step upon their sacred land, use of this strange location was deemed acceptable. The six small islands were expanded with soil and stone brought in from Imperial lands elsewhere, and today Grizlee Bay remains the only true town of the Lizardfolk. Since the fall of the Empire, however, the town of Antiok in the Oaklan Alliance has become a “home away from home” for a small population of Lizardmen who seek a more civilized lifestyle.

In the time since the fall of the Empire, the Fens have generally remained inviolate, as there is little to gain by taking the marsh and swamp lands when so much more fertile land remains fallow due to war. Still, there are no few skirmishes with the Lizardfolk along the verge of the Fen, as locals seek to hunt and gather from the fairly rich wetlands near their homes. For their part, the Lizardmen generally remain in their fenland, with only the few mad cultists sneaking into the dry lands to steal a two-leg furred-one now and again for their infernal rituals.

[Sixth Age] Kingdom of Stockton and Associated Duchies

#5: KINGDOM OF STOCKTON AND ASSOCIATED DUCHIES: In the Dark Age that followed the Change, the primary factor in the development of society in California was the conflict between the Anglo tribes and the Aztlán tribes. When the Change struck among the first of the Old Gods to return were the old Aztec gods. While their message fell mostly on deaf ears in Mexico itself, in the lands to the north, where many of the descendents of their peoples still lived and were oppressed, they found more willing followers. In California the followers of Tezcatlipoca, allied with the followers of Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, founded the Aztlán Empire in San Diego (30, below), which was renamed the City of Aztlán. There is no Hell Pit in San Diego, as like Los Angeles (23, below) it suffered an airburst, and thus the city was cursed, rather than fully transformed. The Curse of San Diego gave the priests of these evil deities great power; first they consolidated their power over the region by sacrificing any non-believers, Mexican or otherwise, and then about 50 years after the Change they began a genocidal revanchist reign of terror against the “Anglos” to the north. These Anglos, at first a disunited bunch of independent towns and tribes, slowly unified their defenses and fell under the power of the Kingdom of Stockton. The war lasted for more than a hundred years, as the front moved slowly. Aztlán cults popped up amidst the Anglo peasantry, serfs, and slaves with “surprising regularity” (not surprising considering that most of the Hispanic peoples of Northern California had been reduced to serfdom or even slavery by their Anglo masters).

The Pyrrhic War, as it is known to Anglo history, ended with the destruction of Aztlán and the scattering of the Aztlán peoples to the four winds. It was a pyrrhic war indeed, as the final spasms of the war virtually depopulated southern California and reduced Stockton to a beggar’s kingdom. Outlaw gangs (the ancestors of the modern Outlaw Orc Tribes) ruled the ruined lands between the walled towns and castles. Into the vacuum walked the Fusangese of Shan Fan; they bought out the Outlaw Gangs and slowly built their empire, first through trade, then through treaty, and eventually, through use of the warrior legions that had developed from the old Outlaw Gangs. For 600 years the Fusangese ruled Stockton, though their form of rule was regarded as “light-handed,” as they remained apart from the ruled in their own enclaves and did not mingle with their subjects. Each ruled domain remained in the hands of a local king, “advised” by an Imperial Governor. The arrogance of the kings of Stockton ensured that their kingdom was slowly dismantled over the centuries, parts being separated off to form their own independent Imperial Grand Duchies; first Bakersfiel, then Montray, then Reyez and Mendenhal, and finally Oaklan. Each was granted its independence from Stockton as a reminder of who was boss after the king and his people had supported various enemy factions during Imperial Civil Wars. Stockton still, of course, supported yet another faction in the Sixth and Final Imperial Civil War (800 to 820 AC); this last ended the empire with the destruction of Shan Fan in the creation of the Dark Pit of the Black Pagoda.

Stockton finally had its freedom, but it was to discover, at a great cost. For once it gained its independence from the shattered empire it had its own problems, as the Grand Duchy of Bakersfiel invaded the Duchy of Vizaylia based on ancient claims. And so it went war after war… Stockton in turn invading Mendenhal, then being invaded by the Sierra Mountain Tribes, then invading Ta-Ho in retaliation for their support of the tribes… and so forth. While the noble warrior-lords of Stockton, egged on by their clergy, the priests of Marduk (8, below), ever sought mastery of the Sanwakeen Valley, other factions turned and plotted.

In 850 AC in Los Angeles, the Great Khan, Bili-Bahb Djohnz, was overthrown by one of his lieutenants, Khan Djimi-Djoh Klaytuhn. Khan Djimi-Djoh had the assistance of the Temple of the Nine Hells, and with their ascension to power the priests of Gruumsh were cast out (the unlucky few who did not flee being sacrificed on the Devil worshipper’s altars). The warriors of the Outlaw Tribes were galvanized by this development, and the long-slumbering beast that had been the Imperial Legions were whipped into shape. Consolidation of the southern regions took more than 20 years, but finally the Great Khan turned his covetous eyes upon the rich Sanwakeen Valley.

He destroyed the Grand Duchy of Bakersfiel first, then turned the massed legions on Montray. The king of Stockton simply took advantage of the situation to retake lands lost to these enemies, thinking the Great Khan and the daggers of his priests would be satisfied with the southern duchies. He was wrong. In 880 the Great Khan and his vast throng moved north, straight into the heart of Stockton, nibbling at Mendenhal as they went. Together the forces of Stockton, Mendenhal, and the Ten Towns met the great horde at the Battle of Beerbridge. The three-day running battle ended with the destruction of all warring forces. The leaders of three realms, and their leading advisors and adjunct rulers, were slain; the flower of Stockton and Mendenhal chivalry lay dead in the fields. The Patriarch of Marduk and his bishops died in mystic battle toe to toe with the Evil High Priest of the Temple of Nine Hells and his shamans. Of the members of the Wizards Guild of Berklee who went to fight, less than one in five survived to tell the tale. Of the Oaklan Raiders, the Haywar Bounders, and the other volunteer forces, only a handful survived to return home.

The divisions in the kingdom already at the straining point, Stockton suffered yet another blow in the Un-Fought War, when the three dukes left to the king (or at least, in two cases, their regents) declared themselves independent. With almost no forces left, and Queen Regent Amandah ruling in the name of her puling babe-in-arms, Prince Djef, the de facto independence of the duchies was recognized, though never legally. Today, 20 years after Beerbridge, young King Djef seeks first to re-conquer the “recalcitrant dukes,” then, after consolidating his gains, take on the Khan of Montray and retake those lost lands. Unfortunately, the last several years have had poor harvests, both in the Valley and in the Sierras, the Valley harvest decline exacerbated by the poor maintenance of the canals of the Sanwakeen (there is little or no maintenance upriver, in the lands held by Bakersfiel and Montray, and little enough in the duchies and Stockton itself, as the Temple of Marduk has undergone schisms reflecting the divisions in the secular realm). His people poor and hungry, they now quake in fear, for there are rumors of movements among the Sierra Mountain Tribes, and the few living grandfathers who saw battle against the giants in decades passed have long told the tales of horror they faced in battle against the Snow Men.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

[Sixth Age] Ten Towns, Shan Fan, Sanjo, and Mendenhal

Here are some details on the map items; this is all "common knowledge" level information from the perspective of someone who lives in the Ten Towns Alliance

#1: THE TEN TOWNS ALLIANCE (aka the Oaklan Alliance, aka the Council of Berklee). The domains once held by the extirpated Duchy of Oaklan today remain united in an oligarchic republic. Each of the constituent states retains its own form of government… that of the Free City of Berklee being the most democratic, while most others possess a mixed form of constitutional monarchy. A strong force for Good and Freedom, the Alliance usually works with the Grand Duchy of Mendenhal (4, below) and the Kingdom of Stockton (5, below) in operations against the Khanate of Montray (11, below). In addition to the armies of each of the constituent states (mostly nobles, knights, and militia) the Alliance has an “organized force of irregulars,” the Oaklan Raiders. Mostly made up of rangers, the primary purpose of the Raiders is as a “strong defensive force” against the monsters from the Sanjo Hell Pit (3, below) and the Lost City of Shan Fan (2, below). The Alliance also has the most powerful Wizards Guild in the West, based at the old Imperial University of Wizardry at Berklee. They also have a decent force of devout and zealous clergy; thanks to the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Alliance Charter, many faiths that have been oppressed elsewhere are given haven here, and happily provide assistance in maintaining that freedom.

#2: THE LOST CITY OF SHAN FAN. This is the former capital of Fusang, the Celestial Empire of Greater California. From here the Celestial Emperors ruled most of the West for most of six centuries. The Fusangese ruling class originated in Shan Fan, being descended primarily from the Chinese, Japanese, and other peoples of East Asian descent. Sequestering themselves from their ruled populations in their own “Fusangtowns,” the Fusangese left little lasting cultural influence on the ruled peoples after the fall of the Empire. During the Last Civil War, the Last Celestial Emperor, Shang-Ti Lo-Pan VII, attempted the casting of a Great and Terrible Spell to destroy his enemies. Instead he destroyed the city of Shan Fan with eldritch energies, creating the Dark Pit of the Black Pagoda in what was, ages ago, the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco. Chaos ensued in the remaining territories once held by the empire, as revolutions break out against the much-reduced and weakened Imperial Army and Imperial Bureaucracy. Today the ruins of the Lost City are filled with the plunder of centuries, a great temptation to the foolish adventurers of the Ten Towns and beyond. The monstrous residents of Shan Fan are quite mixed. Rumor has it that the things that crawl out of the Dark Pit are primarily out of old Chinese, Japanese, and other East Asian myths. The Last Celestial Emperor is also rumored to still hold court, his ministers and noble lords all of undead sort, the infamous Lich Court of Lo-Pan. Finally, though the Dark Pit spawn seemingly have little interest in leaving Shan Fan, the Sankrooz Goblins and the spawn from the Sanjo Hell Pit have both made inroads into the Lost City.

#3: HELL PIT OF SANJO: The Change struck, and the Sixth Age began, when the great and terrible weapons of the Ancients fell on the cities of the world. Rather than fall on the cities and engulf them in vast explosions of hellish flame and fire, the weapons instead fell through the cities and time and space to open gates to… elsewhere. Most of these gates took the form of great craters or pits in the land, filled with whirling mists and coruscating energies. The pit that opened in Sanjo goes to some hellish place, a realm of chaotic nightmares, where monsters out of myth and legend live. When the pits first opened the power of the force that tore a hole through dimensions drew forth countless victims from the other side. Many could not live in this world, and died, but no few survived and their descendants thrive today in this world. While some, such as dragons, griffons, chimeras, and others, left to settle elsewhere, many remained near the pit, stronger for the energies it gives off. Thus, these Hell Pits, as they are usually known, and the territories around them, are home to countless monsters. As they formed in the midst of great cities, where buildings of steel and concrete and glass stand twenty and more stories tall, they are in effect enormous dungeons, where creatures out of nightmare subsist by preying upon each other and any nearby beings native to this world. As there are few who brave the Hell Pits and their surrounds, these ancient cities, once home to teeming millions, remain vast troves of treasure, though to separate out the gold, jewels, ancient art objects, and useful items of value from the non-functional technological dross is often difficult. Sanjo is a “general pit,” wherein the monsters in residence can be of any seeming random type, with no rhyme or reason. It has, however, in the last several decades, become known as a haven for exiled and shunned wizards of Berklee. Some of these wizards practiced necromancy, which is the only magical art forbidden by the Wizards Guild. Others sought to delve into the Old Technology of the Ancients, an act not forbidden so much as severely frowned upon. Thus in the last decades small domains have grown in the region, each ruled by a mad wizard or necromancer, each with an army of undead or strange automatons. As the exiles seem more interested in fighting each other and the local monsters, the Oaklan Raiders leave them to their own devices, but make sure to keep an eye on their growing power…

#4: THE GRAND DUCHY OF MENDENHAL: Mendenhal is an Elven domain, home mostly to Wood Elves and High Elves, with a small number of Grey Elves and Gnomes. The ruling family is of High Elf sort, descended from mixed Grey and Wood lines. Grand Duke Galdor Elensar has ruled his domain since the Battle of Beerbridge, 20 years ago, when his father fell in battle against the Orcs. It was his great-grandfather who, during the Golden Age, successfully lobbied the Emperor of the day to grant the Elves of the Sanwakeen their own domain, separate from the Humans. For in that day the Temple of Marduk had become strong, and the Humans were become less friendly to those of non-Human sort. And so Mendenhal, which had already been his grandfather’s personal hold, became the capital of an extensive duchy, encompassing most of the Diablo Range south of Oaklan. The Town of Mendenhal grew up around the old hold, Laurinathâm, the “Golden Hall,” a subterranean spring expanded by Dwarves and Gnomes into a fairy wonderland. For decades after the fall of the Celestial Empire, the Sovereign Grand Duchy of Mendenhal had to resist the forceful overtures and sometime invasions of the Kingdom of Stockton, who claimed sovereignty over Mendenhal from olden days. The enmity ran deep, as Mendenhal supported the Grand Duchy of Montray in its struggle for independence from Stockton. Still, when Stockton was invaded by the forces of the Great Khan of the City of Lost Angels, the Elves of Mendenhal came to their aid at the Battle of Beerbridge; but it was too little, too late, and the Elves, too, lost their beloved leader and the flower of their chivalry in that three-day running battle. Today the Elves of Mendenhal seek to regain the southern territories they lost to the Orcs; the Roadpigs, the Hangmen, and the Mongols, who hold together their lost lands, are the especial enemies of the Elves. There are rumors that the Elves shelter the Lost Heir of Montray, the youngest son of the Grand Duke, who was slain in the Battle of King City.

[Sixth Age] Map Collage of California

Here's one of those popular map collages of California ca. 900 AC (900 years After the Change, which heralded the end of the Fifth Age and the beginning of the Sixth Age). Click to embiggen...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

[Magic Card a Go Go] Phyrexian Totem

A Phyrexian Totem is a small statuette or icon depicting an insect-like demonic figure. It stands 6" tall, and oddly has a negligible weight, though it feels more solid than iron. It is of a glistening black color, like obsidian, and shadows seem to dance and play upon and within it. The figure, when seen through the corner of one's eye, seems to move ever so slightly; it grins, it winks, it waggles a tail, all minor movements that, when looked at directly, were apparently merely figments of the imagination, as the figure moved not at all.

When the totem is touched, it speaks to the mind of the one who touches it, whispering of the great power it can grant to him in return for just a little bit of the holder's essence... a promise that is true, after a fashion.

If willingly given the life energy of the holder, the Totem drains three points permanently from three random Attributes (this sacrifice can end up being all the same Attribute). Restoration and similar magic will not restore the lost Attribute points. The Totem and its "master" are thereafter tied together inextricably until death (though a wish spell might sever the connection).

The master senses whatever the Totem senses, from whatever distance (though full concentration is required for full understanding of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches). The Totem can speak to its master telepathically at any distance; its mentality and personality is that of an evil, impish, unpleasantly vicious hellcat.

The Totem is usually in a default "spy mode" state, capable of movement (30 ft.) and basic actions in its tiny form. In its tiny spy form it cannot attack, it can only move and spy and steal tiny objects. It is indestructible in this form, immune to all forms of magic and weapons. It can Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Pick Pockets as though it were a 10th level Thief. It has 120 ft. darkvision. It can spider climb as per the spell at will. It can be grabbed (AC 25) and can offer no resistance if held firmly, though it will snarl and whine and whimper... and mentally call to its master for aid!

The master, if a spellcaster, may withdraw energy from the Totem, whatever the distance of the Totam from the master, to immediately cast a spell which the master has memorized without losing the spell from memory (though the energy thus gained cannot be used to cast any form of healing or curative spell). The energy thus gained is no greater in level than the highest level spell the master may cast; he may choose a lower level spell if he wishes. When energy is used thusly, the Totem becomes inert for 1d8 hours per level of the spell cast.

The master, whatever the class, can also temporarily sacrifice three Atrribute points (randomly as above) to the Totem in order to transform it to "warrior mode" (these Attribute points heal as normal). The Totem then grows in one round from 6" tall to 9' tall, and gains prodigious combat abilities... at the cost of the Totem and it master becoming susceptible to mortal attacks!

SIZE: Large
HD: Same hit points as Master, attacks as though with HD equal to level of Master
MOVE: 40 ft.
AC: 20
ATTACKS: 2 Claws (1d8+6) and 1 Bite (4d8)
SPECIAL: Darkvision 120 ft., Immunities, Silver or Holy or Magical Weapons Needed to Hit, Resistances, Spell Resistance (Special), Spider Climb
INT: Special
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
TYPE: Construct
XP: Varies

The Phyrexian Totem in "warrior mode" is a simple killing machine. When in this mode, the Totem has the same hit points as its master... literally, its master's hit points are its own, and wheneve the Totem takes damage, its master... wherever she is... actually takes the damage! When in this form, the master's soul enters the Totem, her own body falling to the ground in a state of suspended animation (and totally helpless, it should be noted).

The Totem cannot exit the "warrior mode," and thus the master cannot return to her own body, until after it has slain at least one intelligent being. The master can return to her own body at any time thereafter; the master can make a Charisma saving throw to do so instantly as the Totem is taking a hit that would knock it to 0 or fewer hit points. If the saving throw fails, the Totem is destroyed and the master's soul is condemned to some unknown hellish plane in a distant dimension. If the saving throw succeeds, the Totem is still destroyed, but the master's soul returns to its body. In this case, however, the Attribute points sacrificed to the Totem to tranform it are lost forever.

If the master's body is slain while her soul is in the Totem, she remains trapped everafter in the Totem!

The Totem can use whatever spells and abilities the master possesses, for in effect, the Totem is the master. Note that any requirement for material components and foci must be met, and that the Totem cannot cast any sort of curative or healing spells, even on itself (it can use healing potions, though)! The Totem can wield any weapons, though it cannot use any sort of armor.

The master does not gain any experience points for any actions taken while inhabiting the Totem.

Immunities: The Totem is immune to all forms of normal and magical cold, fire, and poison.

Resistances: The Totem suffers only half damage from all forms of normal and magical acid, electricity, and sonic attacks.

Spell Resistance: The Totem has a spell resistance equal to the level of the master.

Campaign Notes: These items are very rarely discovered, usually near Hell Pits or in strange temples dedicated to obscure gods of Evil. No one in their right mind would use such a thing, and no one in their wrong mind would ever sell such an item. However, those who are of Evil sort that resist the siren call of the Totem's power might sell the item as a curio or objet d'art to wealthy, decadent types or madmen...

Friday, May 11, 2012

[Magic Card a Go Go] Mana Prism

Mana Prisms are simple magical devices designed with two goals. The first is to generate magical energy, the second, to provide a spell matrix; the two enchantments complement each other, the generation of magical energy requiring the implantation of the spell matrix, and the use of the spell matrix requiring the provision of magical energy. These devices take many forms, though all have a large crystal or gem as the actual spell and energy matrix. The most common form is that of a simple crystal pyramid, though the gem can be of any shape and size. Some of these are implanted in fancy gauntlets, bracers, necklaces, brooches, or even goblets, and to the untrained eye appear to be little more than a fine begemmed piece of jewelry. The item must be worn or held to be used.

Each mana prism contains the matrix for casting a single spell; in this regard it is much like a scroll, however, when used, the spell matrix does not disappear. The prism also contains enough energy for a single casting of the spell contained therein. Use of the spell requires the use of the magic word or phrase that activates the prism. When used, this energy regenerates over a period of 24 hours. Thus, a mana prism can provide the user with a single spell, once per day. Note that these items are useable by anyone, not just wizards, though only wizards can use the additional powers of the prism.

The prism can also be used to power an existing spell of the same level or lower as that of the spell matrix the prism holds. This uses the prism's ability to power its innate spell; the user casts the spell he has memorized, but does not lose that spell, instead using the power from the mana prism to power the casting of the spell. For example, the energy held by a mana prism with a 3rd-level fireball spell matrix can be used to power a 1st-level sleep spell, provided the caster has sleep memorized. The casting of the sleep spell does not cause the caster to forget the spell, but it does drain the mana prism of its power for the day.

Similarly, if the caster has a spell of the same level or higher than that in the matrix memorized, he can use the energy provided by that spell to cast the spell in the matrix, even if the mana prism is out of energy. For example, a wizard with the 5th-level cloudkill spell can use the energy of that spell to power the 3rd-level lightning bolt spell matrix held in a mana prism. The cloudkill spell is effectively cast into the prism, the energy converted into the lightning bolt.

Most mana prisms contain only one spell matrix, though a very few rare ones are known to contain more, with enough energy storage capacity to power each spell once per day.

Roll a d12 to determine the level of the spell matrix and spell energy in a mana prism: 1-6 = 1st level, 7-9 = 2nd level, 10+11 = 3rd level, 12 = Roll twice. A mana prism with a 1st level spell is worth 1,500 gp and 500 EXP; a 2nd level prism is worth 2,000 gp and 1,000 EXP; and a 3rd level prism is worth 2,500 gp and 1,500 EXP. These costs are exclusive of the natural gem value and any jewelry component to which the prism is affixed.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

[900 AC] New Campaign... again!

Okay, so yet again, once more unto the breach!

This Saturday, the group will make up brand-spanking new characters for the new campaign. The new campaign is simply titled "900 AC," which stands for the time frame... 900 years "After the Change." This is the "Magic Returns" change, as inspired by such novels as Ariel: A Book of the Change by Steven Boyett and Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling, and of course by the RPG Shadowrun. Unlike Shadowrun and like the other stories, in this world when the Change hit, Magic returned and Technology died. So anything technologically speaking other than what might be expected to be found in a standard pseudo-Renaissance D&D world is not possible. No guns, no electricity, not even steam power... its all muscle or simple wind or water power or magic.

As it takes place 900 years after the change, there are other influences, too, notably the Horseclans series by Robert Adams. The prior age of technology is regarded with the same myth and legend as we today might regard the Age of Arthur Pendragon.

Some basic events/concepts:

1) The Change struck on the Mayan Calendar Day of Doom in 2012, ushering in the Sixth Age. It was violently ushered in thanks to World War III; however, when the bombs fell, rather than exploding in nuclear hellfire, they exploded magically. Technology failed, and magic returned, spectacularly.

2) Some humans transformed into other races: dwarves, elves, hairfeet halflings, and orcs. The four races are the same as those of classic Middle-earth. A child of an elf and a human is a half-elf. A child of a dwarf and a human, or a dwarf and a halfling, is a stout halfling. A child of an elf/half-elf and a halfling is a tallfellow. A child of an elf and dwarf is a gnome. Goblins are the result of orcs mating with dwarves or halflings. A child of a human and an orc is a half-orc. A child of an orc and an elf is, 15 times in 16, a hobgoblin, while 1 in 16 is a drow. Bugbears and gnolls are the stable result of unpleasant magical experiments gone awry.

3) Monsters originated out of the Pits. The Pits are the great craters left over from the bombs; they are centers of chaotic magic, and the areas around them are very dangerous, due to the strange magic and the monsters. Essentially, many ruined Ancient cities are vast dungeons in the strange "Underworld Dungeon" way. Many monsters have spread far and wide and settled in far from the Pits in the centuries since the Change.

4) The Old Gods returned (taken in form from the classic 1E AD&D Deities & Demigods book and, for the demi-humans, the expanded lists in Unearthed Arcana). Europe, Africa, and Asia all pretty easily settled into their Old Ways, with no little trouble along the borders. In the New World, however, things were quite chaotic, especially in the USA. There is a generic "Temple of Angels and Saints," which is led by a council of Seven Archangels; similarly, the classic Lords of the Nine Hells are also present. No sign of the Big Guy or Satan, however... nor of Eru, the Valar, and the Maiar.

5) There was a Dark Age of about 200 to 300 years; in some places the Dark Age still rules. In others, great empires rose and, in the time since, have fallen. The general divisions of cultures and kingdoms in the former USA is loosely based on this map:

6) The campaign itself begins in the former Celestial Empire of Greater California, specifically, the Ten Towns Alliance of Berklee. The Ten Towns Alliance is a cosmopolitan region, a great melting pot of cultures, races, and religions. Across Frisko Bay are the ruins of The City, Old Shan Fan. The City was not ruined in the Change; the missile meant for it hit to the south, in Sanjo. Rather, The City was the center of the Celestial Empire, which ruled California and beyond for centuries. When the empire collapsed in civil war, the Last Emperor tried to perform a Great and Terrible Spell to punish the rebels; instead he destroyed himself and the City by opening a new Pit.

The regional map for the campaign is based on this map:

The Empty Coast is home to monsters and centuries of lost treasures of the fallen Celestial Empire, as well as to the Dark Pit of the Black Pagoda and the Hell Pit of Sanjo.

The "Bercly Alliance" is the Ten Towns Alliance. The rangers of the Ten Towns? The Oakland Raiders, of course... The Duke of Mendenhal is a half-elf, as are many of his people. They work closely with the Raiders to check the forces of the Roadpigs and the Mongols, who enjoy raiding into the northern territories. They also watch the borders of the Empty Coast, from whence monsters of all sorts might make their way into the wholesome lands.

The Republic of Sanrosa and the Republic of Reyez are elven realms; Sanrosa is closed to other races, while Reyez is open to trade.

The Kingdom of Stockton and the duchies of Mersed, Fresno, and Vizlia are ruled by the Californio Anglos. The Celestial Empire ruled a multiracial/multicultural empire, and as the Fusangese (Neo-Chinese) who ruled the empire had no desire to mix with the ruled peoples (ruling essentially through a millet system), the population of much of the Sanwaukeen Valley remained Anglo, as did the local rulers. Stockton once ruled the whole of the valley from Sacrament south, but 20 years ago the Hells Angels invaded from the City of Lost Angels. The flower of Stockton chivalry (and Stockton unity) was destroyed at the Battle of Beerbridge, but the line has held between the two realms since. Stockton and the Duchies are humanocentric; they are friendly with halflings, tolerate gnomes and dwarves, distrust elves, and loathe orcs and goblins. The men worship at the Temple of Marduk; their womenfolk at the Temple of Ishtar.

The Khanate of Montray is ruled by the Hells Angels. This nomad nation is descended from the military arm of the Celestial Empire; the city of Lost Angeles was the fief of the Angel Khan and became the center of his kingdom when the empire fell. 50 years ago there was a coup, and the Khan and his temple the Temple of Lei Kung, were overthrown by a distant cousin and his sponsoring temple, the Temple of the Nine Hells. Thus began a decades-long war against the neighboring domains, finally culminating in the invasion of Stockton and the Battle of Beerbridge, where the Great Khan and his core followers were slain. His empire collapsed, and today the Khanate of Montray is one of more than a dozen petty domains that have sprung up from the ruins since. As the Celestial Empire used orc mamelukes in its armies, the ruling and warrior classes of the Khanates are a thorough mix of humans, half-orcs, orcs, and goblins.

The coastal mountains being home to many flocks of griffons, the valley is home to no few knights and nomads mounted on griffons, hippogriffs, and demigryphs. The Sierra Mountains are home to dragons, mostly red and white, while the forested foothills are home to green dragons. Blue dragons sometimes make forays over the mountains from the Nevada Wastes, while the Great Fen, Sanjo Swamps, and the Salt Death are home to black dragons. The savage Aztlan warriors of the eastern slopes of the Sierras ride dragonnels, while their barbarian Californio neighbors of the western valleys ride giant eagles.

A generation after the disaster at Beerbridge, the Kingdom of Stockton and the Khanate of Montray are both girding their weapons and readying for war. There are strange things pouring out of the Demon Pit of Sacrament, and unusual activity in the Empty Coast. The elven seers of Sanrosa have exchanged secret missives with their counterparts in Mendenhal. Strange ships have been sighted on the coast. And the last three seasons have been very poor for the mountain folk... trouble is a-brewing...

Monday, May 7, 2012

[Magic Card a Go Go] Lightning Angel


SIZE: Large
HD: 4 (d8) +12 hp
MOVE: 120 ft., 240 ft. (fly)
AC: 24
ATTACKS: 2 Sword (1d8+4 or 1d8+2d6+6 vs. Evil)
SPECIAL: Angelic Immunities, Darkvision 120 ft., Divine Aura, Lightning Strike, Magic Sword, Magical +1 or Better Weapon Needed to Hit, Spell-like Abilities, Spell Resistance 6
INT: High
ALIGNMENT: Good (usually Neutral or Chaotic)
TYPE: Extraplanar
TREASURE: See below
XP: 300 + 4/hp

Lightning Angels are lesser servitors of the Goodly Gods of Storms, Thunder, and of course, Lightning, favoring gods of Chaotic Good and Neutral Good alignments. Most take on the form of an 8' tall luminous winged female human wearing some form of modest armor appropriate to their cultural milieu (though their armor class is inherent, not dependent on the armor). Their eyes continually crackle with electricity, their skin writhes with the many hues of lightning, and their voice, though definitely feminine, booms like thunder. Their wings may appear to be those of eagles, doves, or ravens. They wield a fine magical blade in one hand and lightning in the other. They are usually sent to assist loyal worshippers who are under attack by supernatural Evil opponents or to avenge their master upon apostates.

Angelic Immunities: Lightning Angels are not affected by any form of normal or magical acid, cold, electricity, fire, magic missile, petrification, or water attacks. They are immune to mortal poisons.

Divine Aura: Lightning Angels emanate a permanent divine aura that provides protection from attacks by Evil, summoned, and conjured creatures; all Good-aligned beings within 10' of the angel also gain these benefits. The aura provides a +4 bonus to AC and a +4 bonus to all saving throws against evil creatures and their abilities.

Lightning Strike: Once every 1d6 rounds in addition to making two sword attacks a Lightning Angel may make a lightning strike. This is a lightning bolt that emanates from her hand and can take the form of a 60 ft. by 5 ft. bolt or a 30 ft. by 10 ft. area of effect. All within the area suffer 4d6 points of electricity damage; they may make a Dexterity saving throw to suffer only half damage.

Magic Sword: Each Lightning Angel possesses a magical +1 Evil Bane long sword. Against Good or Neutral opponents it is merely +1 to hit and damage (dealing a total of 1d8+4 damage). Against Evil opponents it is +3 to hit and deals 1d8+2d6+6 points of damage. When wielding any other weapon a Lightning Angel deals +3 damage, due to her great Strength. If the Lightning Angel is slain on the Prime Plane, the sword remains behind.

Spell-like Abilities: Lightning Angels can perform the following spell-like abilities, one at a time, one per round: aid (3/day), bless (5/day), cure light wounds (3/day), cure serious wounds (1/day), detect evil, detect illusion, detect magic, detect poison, detect traps (3/day), dispel magic (3/day), hallow (1/day), healing circle (1/day), know alignment, lesser restoration (3/day), light, read magic, remove curse (3/day), remove disease (1/day), remove fear, and sound burst. They speak all languages. They may return to their home plane at will, but are only sent to the Prime Plane at their master's command or when summoned through summon planar ally. If the Lightning Angel is slain on the Prime Plane, she cannot return from her home plane for a year and a day.

Magic Card a Go Go: Every day, or thereabouts, I'll look up a random Magic: The Gathering card or three on Gatherer and devise a background and some rules. Why? Mostly because it seems like fun. When it is no longer fun, then meh...

[Magic Card a Go Go] Jinxed Idol

A Jinxed Idol looks like any other ordinary idol, 3" to 3' in height, made of wood, ceramic, copper, silver, gold, or the like, perhaps even encrusted with gems. It invariably, however, looks unpleasant to the eye, evil of cast or visage, homely and otherwise slightly unnerving. It radiates no magic, nor evil, should such be detect for by magic or otherwise, so well cloaked is the curse. It is also indestructible to normal physical and even most magical attacks. A Jinxed Idol can only be destroyed in the location that it was made (i.e., the carver's hut, the goldsmith's forge, etc.)

However, whenever it is claimed as treasure, then the curse activates. The target must make a Charisma saving throw against CL 20 or suffer the effects of the curse. The Curse of the Jinxed Idol deals 1d3 points of Constitution damage to the target every week (once initially when the curse takes effect, then every seven days thereafter). While so cursed, the target cannot heal Constitution points suffered in this manner. There are only three ways to lift the curse:

1) Application of a remove curse spell cast by a cleric of 18th level or greater, which lifts the curse from the target though does not destroy the idol; or

2) The cursed being must purposefully and with malice sacrifice a living and intelligent being to the idol. If the sacrifice is of Good alignment and Pure, the original victim may immediately choose a new target for the curse (said target need not be visible, but must be on the same plane); or

3) Destroy the Jinxed Idol in the location in which it was made; this requires no special magic, though finding the location may require no few spells, consultation with sages, or research into legends and lore.

Once the curse is lifted, the victim will heal the damage from the curse as normal.

Magic Card a Go Go: Every day, or thereabouts, I'll look up a random Magic: The Gathering card or three on Gatherer and devise a background and some rules. Why? Mostly because it seems like fun. When it is no longer fun, then meh...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

[Magic Card a Go Go] Sage of Lat-Nam

The Sages of Lat-Nam are a mystical order of wizards who delve into the mysteries of the arcane with what others regard as a brazen disregard for safety or sensibility. They are known as "sages" only in an ironic fashion, for they do not truly study knowledge as other sages do. Instead, they tear it from the heart of existing magic items. To those who create such things, they are the very essence of barbarism, knowledge of arcane magic or not.

A Sage of Lat-Nam can "de-construct" a magic item in order to learn one aspect of the magic that created it. Doing so is a simple process requiring a laboratory and a single eight-hour day of labor; at the end of the day, the item in question is reduced to mere bits and bobs, with no remaining magic, and the spare parts useless and utterly without value (gems are shattered, gold is spoilt magically, etc.) At the end of the destruction of the item, the sage makes an Intelligence check; instead of his level as a bonus, he uses the highest-level spell level he can cast.

If he fails to meet his target number, he has failed, and learned nothing at the cost of the destruction of a magic item.

If he at least equals the target number, however, the surplus of the difference between the roll and the TN is the highest-level magical "secret" he can rip from the experience. He may only learn one new spell, however, regardless of how many spells he might potentially learn. And of course, if the highest-level "secret" is still too high for his roll, then he fails to learn anything at all. If there are multiple spells to be learned, then the CK determines which one is learned randomly.

The sage must thereafter scribe the learned spell in his spell book as normal, requiring the usual amount of time and expenditure of inks and materials as would normally be required.

Other wizards use the name "Lat-Nam" as a curse, comparing the wizard of old who developed the pyrrhic rituals and formulae to the most savage of barbarians of yore...

Magic Card a Go Go: Every day, or thereabouts, I'll look up a random Magic: The Gathering card or three on Gatherer and devise a background and some rules. Why? Mostly because it seems like fun. When it is no longer fun, then meh...

[Magic Card a Go Go] Day of the Dragons

DAY OF THE DRAGONS, Level 7 wizard
Casting Time: 1
Range: 50 ft.
Duration: 10 minutes/level
Save: see text
Spell Resistance: yes
Components: V, S, M, F

This potent advanced form of the polymorph other spell causes the target creature(s) to assume the body, abilities (physical, supernatural, and otherwise), and the consciousness of dragons. These creatures are completely under the control of the spell caster, and they will perform any duty or action required of them, including that which is patently suicidal. Unwilling targets of the spell can resist the effect with a successful Wisdom saving throw.

For each level of the caster above 12th, she can target one creature.

For every level of the caster above 12th, the dragons can have up to the size, HD, AC, DB, SR, and other abilities of a dragon of that Age; thus, dragons created through this spell by a 17th level caster can have up to the abililties of Adult (Age 5) dragons. The caster can choose, at the time of casting, to cast the spell with a lower Age effect (and thus, weaker abilities though with lower material component cost) for each target independently.

When the spell is cast, the targets gain a new hit point total based on their new Hit Dice. When the spell ends, they revert back to their previous hit points, and all damage suffered while in dragon form disappears. However, if slain in the dragon form, the subject remains dead.

The dragon color depends on the magical Focus used in the casting of the spell. The required focus is the mummified heart of a dragon of the appropriate type. If the caster posseses more than one heart from different dragons, she can choose which type of dragon each subject becomes.

The material component, expended in the casting, is 1,000 gp in diamond dust per Age per subject (thus, three transformed targets each of 5th Age would require 15,000 gp in diamond dust).

Magic Card a Go Go: Every day, or thereabouts, I'll look up a random Magic: The Gathering card or three on Gatherer and devise a background and some rules. Why? Mostly because it seems like fun. When it is no longer fun, then meh...

[Magic Card a Go Go] Order of the Sacred Torch

The Order of the Sacred Torch is an order of knighthood dedicated to the eradication of Black Magic. Its paladins are especially efficacious at dispelling any sort of enchantment, curse, spell, or effect brought into being through the Black Arts. The Order was founded centuries ago, predicated on the legend of the Sacred Torch. The Sacred Torch, also known as the First Brand, is said to be the very first flame gifted to men by the gods. This brand was passed from shaman to shaman, tribe to tribe, passing on the Secret of Fire and the Spark of Civilization in the Elder Age. The Sacred Torch is said to burn still at the heart of the Tower of Flame Imperishable, though only the paladins of the order are allowed in the Holy of Holies to gaze upon its flames. Those who contemplate upon it for hours at a time are said to be granted visions in its flames, visions of wrongs to be righted and hidden evils to be fought.

Paladins of the Order of the Sacred Torch possess the ability to dispel magic rather than turn undead. They can only use the ability to dispel a spell created by an evil caster or creature; any other attempt to use the ability automatically fails. The paladin uses his Charisma rather than Intelligence to determine if the ability was successful. Each use affects only one single spell or effect. If the use of the ability is unsuccessful, the paladin cannot use the ability on a spell cast by that same spell caster for a whole day. The paladin can also attempt to use this ability to counter spell a spell as it is being cast. He may only do so once per round; if he has already acted in the round, the attempt suffers a +3 to the CL. When used to counter a spell as it is being cast, the paladin suffers 1d6 points of damage per level of the spell being countered, whether or not the spell counter attempt was successful.

Magic Card a Go Go: Every day, or thereabouts, I'll look up a random Magic: The Gathering card or three on Gatherer and devise a background and some rules. Why? Mostly because it seems like fun. When it is no longer fun, then meh...