Sunday, August 28, 2016

Inhaling the Void

As our bodies create a bubble of warmth around ourselves in cold water so do our minds insulate our sanity against the cold realities of the cosmos. But when there is a current the icy truth of the greater river is revealed, and so our illusions of a verdant and hospitable universe are ripped from us. Even as the water flows we pump out our vital heat in attempt at homeostasis, and as the cosmic winds rip away at our psyche we try and cling to a coherent view of reality.

"...And even when a road hazards its way over the desert, you will see it make a thousand detours to take its pleasure at oases. Thus, led astray by the divagations of roads, as by other indulgent fictions, having in the course of travels skirted so many well watered lands, so many orchards, so many meadows, we have from the beginning of time embellished the picture of our prison. We have elected to believe that our planet was merciful and fruitful. But a cruel light has blazed, and our sight has been sharpened..."
From: Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

Essence of the Void and The Mágos Astéria

The Mágos Astéria are a small society of scholars and mystics, mostly composed of reclusive astronomers and  astrologers. They are all pen pals and collaborate readily with each other, but rarely let new comers into their secret society.

The greatest of them have begun to have their minds slipping, as they stare into the darkness less and less of this world matters, they call this Inhaling the Void. They forget to eat, they forget to sleep, and they forget to write to their colleagues. When their distant friends go looking for them they find these masters of the stars curled up in their observatories clutching their telescopes in withered hands and perfectly mummified with star light shining out of their eye sockets. They shake their heads and sigh, another one lost...and promptly cut off the head of the dead star gazer and drain the strange shining fluids from their skulls.

And that's how Essence of the Void is harvested.

Drinking a vial of  Essence of the Void will flush the mind of the drinker with the cold and bitter truths of the cosmos, and most cannot withstand this and will go insane. But spell casters of a certain class can use this to counteract the side effects of some of their more volatile spell casting. Arnold K writes a great piece about wizards and spell casting that describes wizards as making their mindscape habitable for spells by contorting them to the desired spell's preferred psyche.

Some spells require a feverishly hot and vigorous mindscape to be cast, such as Otto's Irresistible Dance, and this is rather hard to maintain. Hence the use of Essence of the Void, its a coolant, but a very dangerous tool. Take too much and your finely tuned  mind freezes solid and cracks, take too little too late your mind is dribbling out your ears.

Don't do drugs.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Fey King's Children: The Aden

James W Cain

The Fey King
The only personality of legend still mentioned in stories today in Vindjord that has anything to do with the curious group of creatures known as Fey is Fornjót, the Fey King. Fornjót was an ancient and wise giant, who is said to have stood tall as the clouds and had ox’s horns great and ponderous sweeping out of his temples.

The story goes that in his long years wandering the primordial and icy young world, gathering wisdom and knowledge, he encountered the Fey in their infancy. Being the only giant the young race had ever seen they were at first afraid, but as he made his kindness and curiosity known they began to look at him as a father figure and great teacher. He spent many decades with them, delighting in their youth and beauty. But as the centuries ground onward, Fornjót got restless to see the rest of the world that was thawing as the stars had begun to melt the eternal ice. Fornjót left the Fey for many a millennia, he abandoned his pupils and children.

In his roving’s he learned much and ever grew more steeped in wisdom, magic, and power. When at last he recalled his long forsaken children he returned to the place he had left them, wishing again for their music and youth after the long lonely grind of the years. He found them in the Realm that had been allotted to them by the Gods, Villturheim, the savage and wild land, but beautiful beyond words. The Fey rejoiced at the return of their Fey King, but for many the wounds left by his abandonment were still fresh. After conspiring some few decided to kill Fornjót so he could never again leave them again, led by Fornjót’s foremost pupil: Leifrik Lord of the Frosted Wood. But Fornjót was mighty, and their magic simply cast him into an eternal sleep in their wild lands.

So ends the tale of Fornjót the Fey King, and the Fey play only a small role in other legends and myths as tricksters or flighty woodland creatures. The Age of Gods ended and the Age of Heroes began, and the People of the Realms were given dominion of the Gods’ creations and the Fey were little seen...

"And then you see him, the Usurp King of the Fey, the Fell Enchanter, the Lord of the Frosted Wood, Leifrik Villtursungr; he strides on thin air down from the starry sky. Well grown and well compacted is this Lord of the Fey, long are his legs and sinewy, and deep and broad his chest. His hair that once was sable has been of late dashed with gray. Most terrible his visage, and lordly is his gait."
The Fey most favored by Fornjót are the Aden, in their tongue simply the people. To hear them tell it, they where the first to awaken under the ancient stars and creators of music and they learned the most from Fornjót of magic and the Realms. They are the ruling people of Villturheim, living in crystal castles in the icy peaks or in palaces made of spun mithril with panes of gossamer glass harvested from giant dragonflies in the deep marshes. They delight in mischief and when the mood strikes them their cruelty is unmatched. Seated deeply in each of them is the arrogance and desire to rule other races.

Unlike their subjects; changelings, the faeries, sprites, banshees, hags, dryads and nyads, and all other fey; the Aden have developed a society instead of small family groups. They are immortal and they take hundreds of years to mature. To accelerate this they often send their children into one of the other Realms, usually Midgard, because time flows much more swiftly there. In Midgard the Aden usually choose a mortal race to dominate, stirring up trouble with their innate mind dominating magic for a few centuries before getting bored and moving on.

Aden Stats:
· Ability Score Adjustments: +4 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Con, -2 Str
· Age: Very slow to age, and never to die of old age, considered reach adult hood half way through their second millennium
· Alignment: The older they get the more they tend towards evil and law, though they young have much more chaotic tendencies.
· Size: Medium in maturity, Small in childhood, always well-proportioned and tall though lithe.
· Speed: Blessed with speed, their base walking speed is 40 feet
· Children of the Starry Night: Darkvision out to 60 feet
· Fey Inheritance: Resistance to magic damage, advantage on saving throws against magic effects, and cannot be put to sleep.
· Magic in the Blood: All of the Aden have some innate spell casting ability, each one can cast 3 cantrips, 2 1st level spells (4/day), and 1 2nd level spell (2/day). They favor mind effecting magics.
· Languages: They can speak, read, and write in Sylvan as well as the languages of their chosen subjects.

How to Use the Aden:
They make good villains and provide an easy story conduit between Villturheim (The Wild Realm) and Midgard (The Mortal Realm). Because of their talent with magic but physical frailties they usually choose a champion and dominate them to protect them. Need an unexplained peasant revolt with a cult of personality around an otherworldly beautiful child? They are perfect for this!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Digression on Archetypes and Poison Rules for Gimble

I run a game set in an ancient Mediterranean(ish) archipelago using the 5th Edition rule set, (look forward to another post about the setting in the future). My players just reached third level, and for many classes that means choosing your archetype. I have the philosophy that this is when your character really should come into their own. For example if you met these characters in real life I wouldn't want you to think, "Oh, look she carries a battleaxe and yells a lot, she must be a barbarian", I want you to see her and think, "Oh wow, look at the well carved totem and charms she carries, she must be a very much in tune with the Spirits". This is where the real flavor and identity of the character should emerge.

Axe taller than her? Check. Furs? Check. Face paint? Check. Bonus points for being a dwarf.

In pursuit of this I am happy to cook up anything that my players want to play. One of my players wanted to play a doctor flavored rouge, Dr. Gimble, so I whipped him up an archetype based loosely on the "Mastermind' from The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide and modified these Poisoner's Kit rules to fit a man of medicine better. So I give you, the Master of Medicine! Note that the archetype is unfinished, this is intentional as I want my player to guide Gimble's growth and specialization. Also included are the modified Poisoner's Kit rules.

In addition, to make this a lot more interesting I am also working on a series of tables of ingredients for each ecosystem that the characters may encounter. That means that Gimble may beg the party to let him climb that mountain peak and forage for a few hours because he really wants to use a Giant Puffball Fungus in his next poison. Look for a post on poison ingredients and where to find them in the next few weeks.