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Monday, 5 April 2010

Tamorian spellcasters

A Dragon Warriors post today for those role-players who have been patiently awaiting some rules and numbers to counterbalance all the fantasy background material.

For our long-running Tekumel campaign, Jamie and I devised a list of alternative spells intended to give each country’s sorcerers their own distinctive flavor of magic. The spells below fall under a category of magic we call Phenomenation, “the acquisition of goods and services by magical means”. We found in our Legend campaigns that these spells can also be used for sorcerers from the New Selentine Empire.

Level One: WAYFARER’S LANTERN (replaces Moonglow)

A beam of bright amber light shines from an aperture in the ether above the caster's head, turning to follow his line of sight and moving along with him. This is accompanied by a strong odor of sulfur. The light turns on and off on command, but only at fixed intensity. It lasts for one hour.

Level Two: THE GOBLETS OF THE UNKNOWN ONE

Goblets of white onyx, bearing a glyph of unknown meaning, appear in the hands of up to four people. These contain a full day's water requirement, vanishing when drained or set down. Before drinking, characters must toast their supernatural benefactor with the formula: “May he never be known!” Failure to do this is said to bring bad luck (-1 on all rolls) for a year and a day.

The quality of the water in the goblets varies cyclically according to unidentified causes. It was once believed to correspond to the position of the planet Artemis in the night sky, but this theory of the mage Alexu Nacphoros has now been disproved. The contemporary taste of the water, and speculation as to how it will change in the future, remain subjects of discussion among wizards.

Level Three: THE REPAST OF MASTER TZIMISCA (replaces Banquet)

Food is created. This is of very fine quality by aristocratic tastes, though may seem overly dainty to a commoner. The banquet appears on dishes laid out on a low silk draped table, complete with wine. There is sufficient for up to three people (depending on how hungry they are) but it is obviously intended for a solitary diner. The board is always identical, and all may be consumed with the exception of the uppermost apple in the fruit-bowl, which appears with a single bite taken from it. This is rumored to be the last morsel of food tasted by the wizard Artax Tzimisca and to eat it is taboo. Some believe that breaking the taboo would result in the diner exchanging places with the long-lost wizard, presumed to be on one of the circles of hell - hence the expression, “To share Tzimisca's banquet.”

Level Four: ACCOUTREMENT

This spell creates a single item of any commonplace (nonmagical) type. It can be a melee weapon of any type required by the caster (sword, dagger, spear, etc), or light armor, or some other simple implement such as a dish, shield or digging tool. The item remains for three hours.

Level Five: THE LABORS OF THE UNSEEN

This spell exercises miraculous invisible agencies to rapidly repair a simple damaged object such as a suit of armor or a cart-wheel. The work happens in a blur, taking only seconds. Not only is the object repaired, but it is also re-lacquered in the specific colors of the ancient Selentine house of Andronicus and supplied with archaic ostentation. Some opinions hold that the object is not in fact repaired at all, but simply replaced by a duplicate of appropriate size from the obviously capacious Andronican armory. For reference, the primary color is a thick dark bronze gold, the secondary color is white, and the trim is in light purple.

Level Seven: THE INDEFATIGABLE ONES

A team of ten laborers arrive to serve the caster for one day. These are short, lightly-built, hairless people with golden-tanned skin and green eyes. Upon appearing, one of them will come forward and ask “Do you wish us to serve you?” The caster must not reply until he has examined each worker thoroughly to ensure that none bears a vestigial rat-like tail. Only if no tail is found is it safe to give the workers a task. They will perform tirelessly and require no supervision, working with the skill of a team of journeymen directed by a master in masonry, carpentry, shipbuilding, fortifications, painting or any other nonmagical skill that the GM deems appropriate.

There is a 5% chance that one of the workers will have the vestigial tail. If so, a roll of Intelligence -3 or less on 2d10 is needed to detect it. Should you fail to notice the tail, the workers will fulfill their day's tasks but whatever work they produce will be cursed to bring you bad luck. Any rolls made secretly by the GM on a cursed character’s behalf (eg stealth rolls, the chance of finding special items in treasure, etc) are adjusted by 10% in the player’s disfavor until the construction is completely dismantled or destroyed (where applicable) and the character undertakes a pilgrimage to pray before a saintly relic or icon.

Level Eight: THE VESSEL OF THE INVISIBLE SEEKERS (replaces Destrier)

A boat or palanquin appears as though from nowhere and lasts for four hours. The boat will carry up to eight passengers; the palanquin has room for three. The rowers or bearers are invisible (so that the palanquin seems to float in the air) but they do leave footprints. The vessel's crew always know a route to your destination even if you do not know it yourself. For example, you could tell them to take you to the House of the Red Dome in Ferromaine even if you had never previously visited the city. They cannot be commanded to take you to a person or item, however, but only to a specific address that you can name. Additionally, you must always command them to convey you to such-&-such a place and no further; omitting this stipulation could prove disastrous.

A different boat or palanquin is summoned each time the spell is cast, varying in historical design and ornamentation. Seemingly the Invisible Seekers pluck any available craft from out of the time-stream - sometimes still with the original occupant.

Level Nine: THE PALE JADE PAVILION

A large tent providing shelter from the elements is caused to manifest, with room for up to ten people. This lasts nine hours. The interior is furnished with cushions, and silken drapes partition the space according to the number of occupants. The Pavilion always gives most restful sleep, regardless of the climate outside, such that any wounded character will recover twice his rank in Health Points overnight. Indeed, the Pavilion is believed to be the gift of the god Hypnos, for it can only be entered by bowing and saying, “I thank the Master of Dream for his hospitality.” Entering without saying this will move the god to umbrage, resulting in the character's immediate and permanent expulsion from all manifestations of the Pavilion. (Sensible of pious feeling, Tamorian wizards typically excuse this as a prayer to St Petrus Damiani, patron of insomniacs.)

Apparently it is also bad form to use violence against anyone else in the tent, from which comes the Tamorian saying, “It seems we must share the Pavilion,” used between two rival sorcerers obliged to a temporary truce.
Where a Phenomenation spell is not stated to replace one of the regular Dragon Warriors sorcerer spells, it is simply added to the list for that level.

It is clear from the descriptions that these spells are of pagan origin but have been given some superficial trappings of the True Faith to satisfy the Church - note the many instances of an apparent prayer to some ancient deity or other. The curse that may be incurred by use of The Indefatigable Ones can be lifted by appeal to a saint, but that does not appear to be part of the spell itself but rather a holy remedy to a pagan affliction. Tamorian priests must be well aware of the suspect origins of sorcery, but turn a blind eye to that in order to keep it under state control.

We've had an abundance of Abraxas posts recently, but if Dragon Warriors is your fancy then hang on a few weeks for more from the Invaders & Ancients books, including an all-new scenario or two, plus more Tamorian spells, creature stats, and some of the work that I did with Tim Harford on the rules for DW2.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Dave !
    I remember you had already advised, in DW6, to give another outlook to the spells cast by the Sorcerer from Kithai.
    I had written a grammar for Angate, the language of Selentine and Ferromaine. And finally, it has led to the full-developped Sambahsa !

    Olivier
    http://sambahsa.pbworks.com/

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  2. Hi Olivier - so it could be said that I partly inspired a new language? I shall ask them to put that on my tombstone. Not for a few years yet, though :-)

    In Abraxas the magic would be based on a kind of sorcerous vocabulary and grammar (inspired perhaps by the old CRPG Dungeon Master) whereby characters learned new ways to manipulate the essences and elements.

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  3. Yaghi ! (yes indeed !). Though Sambahsa is very different from my original sketch of Angaté, the latter really "kindled" the creation of the former. Of course, if you have an idea for an epitaph, I can translate it into Sambahsa or even Angaté...
    The other language I had developped for the World of Legend was Vidisk (visic) spoken in Erevorn and Thuland, inspired mostly by Danish English and German.
    Since that time, I've become a competent "fantasy" linguist and I was among the cofinalists of a recent contest which aimed to elaborate a language for a telefilm adapted from a novel (I must not yet tell which one):
    http://conlang.org/jobs/

    Olivier

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  4. Well, we still need to create the Abraxan language... ;-)

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  5. Hi!
    Well, I don't play RPG but I love all the art (I am a brazilian cartoonis) that we can see in the books, posters and boxes and WOW!
    What a lot of art I found here!
    Fantastic!
    Best wishes from Brazil!

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  6. Hi Bira - did you also see the Mirabilis site? (www.mirabilis-yearofwonders.com) Lots of great art there too!

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