Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Order of Rulebreakers

In Magic there are rules.  Ways in which rituals must be performed, orders in which spells may be learned, manners in which curses and enchantments can be broken, effects of magic that are irreversible. 

Then there is the Order of Rulebreakers.  The Rulebreakers are a loose collection of spellcasters, primarily wizards, who make it their business to learn any governing ideas concerning magic, and then either break them or create workarounds:  curing people of vampirism, cheating death, reviving the dead, traveling to the underworld, casting higher level spells at lower levels, rewinding time, creating immunities to magical effects, writing new spells: those sort of things.  Many of these tactics and new spells are considered disruptive, possibly even dangerous, by more established spellcasters, and so the Order of Rulebreakers is outlawed in many kingdoms and states. 

Precisely where the Rulebreakers originated is not well-known, although it was likely somewhere in the Province of Visia, on the Great Peninsula Span, located to the southwest of Gull.  Pockets of Rulebreakers have spread to Aqueia, the most western Province of Gull, and there are scattered members beyond there, for Rulebreakers often travel.  They are illegal in most of Talia.  Their existence has been known for a little over 80 years, but some believe they may be as old as 200 years. 

When Rulebreakers appear in public or gather for meetings, they dress in dark cloaks and bright, monochromatic masks, usually white.  These mask are usually modeled on nondescript human faces, with black paint suggesting stylized features.  Rulebreakers refer to themselves by extravagant aliases, such as the Duke of Divergence, the Lord of Lilies, or Lion of the Lotus.  One of the most famous Rulebreakers is the Moron of the Sunless Depths.  He dresses in dark green with an aquamarine mask with enormous eyes and a small circular mouth. 

One theory of the founding of the Rulebreakers that explains their penchant for masks is that they started as an attempt by a party of spell-users to overcome the effects of a Medusa’s Petrifying Gaze, either to more easily defeat her, or to allow her to join their ranks.  As it stands, at least one Medusa is a known member of the Rulebreakers, The Lady of the Kindly Face. 

All Rulebreakers are either Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral.  They have spells that ward off all other alignments from joining their ranks.  Most Rulebreakers are Human or Tiefling, although there is the occasional Elf, Halfling, or mixed-race member.  And of course, there is at least one Medusa.  Some Rulebreakers have been known to turn themselves into Vampires or Liches.  How exactly such evil beings relate to the Order’s statutes concerning alignment is not generally known, although the theories are that either such beings get a special dispensation, or that Rulebreakers have figured out how to turn such beings away from being Truly Evil.   

Rulebreakers have a fondness for Alices (see A Red and Pleasant Land, pp. 29-33) and the more powerful of the Rulebreakers will often cast themselves as the benefactors of Alices they happen to run into (See Alice: Exasperation Table,p.31 in AR&PL, ROLL11).  They will do this even if the Alice does not belong to their favored alignment, as they think any insight gained from studying Alices as magical events supersedes the dangers of their ideology growing in power.    

Almost all Rulebreakers must be capable of spells of at least the 5th level of some spellcasting class, although junior members are allowed to join after reaching the 3rd level. 

Apprentice Spellcasters (0-Level)

                Training to be a spellcaster on the continent of Auros is a long, arduous process, one that can take several years.  As such, many wizards are quite capable of working some magic before becoming a first level wizard, or even before reaching 1st level.  And of course, some individuals learn some of the basics of magic, and then abandon their studies, but retain their spellcasting abilities through use, maybe even making a career of their performance.  Many apprentice clerics work as physicians in hospitals, and wizard apprentices often work as cleaners or repairmen, although some memorize offensive cantrips and serve as unassuming bodyguards.  Sorcerer apprentices often make their way as entertainers.   

Casting Abilitiy
A 0-Level spellcaster has access to the cantrip spells up to or equal to those that would be available to them at 1st level.  In addition, a 0-level spellcaster who utilizes a spellbook may record any cantrip in their spellbook and prepare it as if it was a first level spell being cast by a first level spellcaster.  A 0-level spellcaster may change 1 at will cantrip once every d3 moons. 

This is mostly useful for creating NPCs, but PCs may choose to become apprentices of a new class following suitable in-game roleplaying, and at a cost of 500 XP.  If a PC wishes to make their character an apprentice in a second class at character creations, reaching 2nd level takes 1600XP, at which point 500XP is removed.  All following levels require the normal amount of XP. 

Hit Points
Apprentice Spellcasters have the HP of the average (rounded up) of their classes Hit Die, plus their Constitution Modifier.  For example, a wizard apprentice in 5th Edition with CON 12 would have HP 4+1=5.  

PCs who expend 500 XP to gain apprenticeship receive additional HP equal to either ONLY the apprencticeship’s Hit Die Average or ONLY their CON modifier, whichever is higher.  For Example, if someone gains a level of Cleric, they will gain HP6 unless their CON Mod is greater than +6.  A wizard apprentice with CON 20 would add +5HP, not 4HP.  A PC who takes an apprenticeship at character creation takes whichever HP value is lower.  A wizard apprentice with CON 20 would take only +4HP. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Note in the Guest Room

            Dearest Adrie,
            I have been staying in Marilon’s Keep for nearly a week now.  Every day I have missed you and given you much thought in deep affection.  I believe I will be here for a week more.  If I could I rush away from here and back to Siannodel I would.  But soon, my darling.  Tomorrow the wish ring commissioned by Lord Thamior shall be completed, and then I shall be on my way. 
            The walls of this underground crypt are dim and cold, as if this was a place for dwarves.  Though the room I have been given is well appointed and spells set by the Wizard keep it relatively warm, it is still a far cry from the pleasures of our fair city among the trees.   And he employs the most horrifying creature as a ward in his Library.  A green orb, covered in spikes, with a single cyclopean eye above its mouth and four stalks growing from its sides that end in additional eyes!  He calls the beast his Spectator.  Spectate it certainly does!  He has given me leave of the Library, so the creature abides me, but when I am reading there, I think at times I can her muttering in some horrible, gibbering tongue. 
            Yet still I tarry.  This human is an astonishing enigma!  Never before have I observed such creatures.  Adrie, you would be amazed at the speed and skill at which these humans learn magic.  Marilon is not yet even a century old, and already he has conquered the highest levels of Arcane wisdom.  And the speed at which his apprentice adapts to spells!  During this week alone I have seen her introduced to, and then master a cantrip.  A cantrip learned in a bare week!  Adrie, I think these humans are more masterful at magic than even us.  Their short spans bestow on them a drive that our race shall never know.  I have even, in my more fanciful moments, entertained returning to this place.  Perhaps I too shall learn some magic!  I have always wanted to learn to comprehend other languages.  Then I could know what that thing in the library is muttering about! 
            As a point of interest, there is also a most peculiar thing in this Keep.  The Wizard keeps a maze on the level below.  A veritable labyrinth!  He has shown me it once.  The walls keep shifting behind him, but he assures me that is by design.  It is in here that he stores his most valued possessions, in rooms tucked away within it.  There is also, he tells me, a room that leads down into the caves below, which he tells me are really quite beautiful.  He insists that there are paths within by which you can exit out onto the nearby cliffs.  However, he says, there is another path that leads to the lair of a nearby dragon.  Do not worry for me, Adria!  Marilon insists there is no danger of the Dragon coming upon us.  A creature must be quite small to pass from the Dragon’s lair to this place, and besides, there are wards that keep such things out.  With this in mind, I plan tomorrow to spend my last full day here investigating these caves  with the apprentice, a delightful human girl named Tara.  I know you would like here immensely, Adria.  I have already invited her to visit Siannodel when her apprenticeship is up. 
            Well my love, perhaps I shall amend this letter on the morrow, telling you of my adventures in the caves, but until then I believe this is all.  I suppose it silly of me to have written a letter that only I shall be able to deliver to you, as I am sure I will tell you all of this to you in person, but my pangs for you are so great that I cannot help but write you while impoverished of your company.  But soon I shall return to your side! 
            Your own,

Monday, May 2, 2016

The City of If

            The city If lies near the center of the lands of Gull, which comprise much of the Northwest of the Continent of Auros, resting above the Long Sea.  The Pyron Mountains (in which lies the peak of Neera, home to the Ancient Gold Dragon Kenya) rest along Gull’s southeastern edge.  If lies within the Basin of the River Still.  The Island of If lies in the city’s center, within the River Still.  The River Still is the major river of the Northern half of Gull, and empties into the Channel of Alb, which divides Gull from the Island of Albion.
            The City of If has a rather peculiar political organization.  Unlike most of the Lands of Gull, which are kingdoms or lordships, If is organized as a democracy.  Ownership of others is illegal there as well, and thus it is known as a Free State.   Every year, the people of If participate in an election.  The residents of each street meet in a public building, and select a fellow resident to represent them in the City Parliament.  The members of Parliament select a Prime member, to serve as leader of the body and oversee sessions.
            The Parliament of If makes no military decisions, for there is no military.  Instead of a standing army, If relies upon the individuals known as the Twelve Protectors.  These are twelve very powerful beings who have made it their duty to ensure the safety of the city, and to intercede in case of any grave injustices.  The Twelve do not intercede in governing affairs, merely keep the peace and protect the city.  This organization has lasted for about 500 years.  While some of the Twelve have held their position since the founding of the Order, others have, from time to time, given up their position when a candidate of sufficient ability has presented him or herself.  New replacing members of the Twelve are chosen only through unanimous consent of the Twelve, and must submit themselves to a series of tests administered by the Twelve, which are known only to those who have been members.  That said, almost all the members of the Twelve seem functionally immortal, in one way or another. 
            The city is surrounded by a wall about its outer boroughs, with 12 gates to match the Twelve Protectors.  Each of the gates has a large gatehouse, which serves as an abode of one of the Twelve, which they may live in and staff, although many of the Twelve keep abodes elsewhere in the city.  Gates 12, 3, 6, and 9 are orientated to the North, West, South, and East, respectively, with the intermediary gates being equally positioned along the wall.  There are tunnels and bridges within the wall that allow the passage of waterways into and out of the city. 
            The members of the Twelve Protectors at this time are as follows:
            1) Elanara, The Faerie Queen:  Quite possibly the eldest being on the council, although with Lucien the most recent to join, Elanara is a Fey royal visiting from Faerie, and whose 50 years spent as a member of the Twelve counts for her as little more than a holiday. The true extent of her power is unknown, but there are residents among the city, particularly elves, who view her as akin to a god. 
            2) Lucien, The Red Wizard:  Clean shaven, and with bright red hair, Lucien is a slim, tall wizard who dresses in red and appears much younger than his considerable magical abilities imply.  He is the consort of Elanara, and has been since before the pair joined the Twelve over 50 years ago.  It is believed it is her magic that has allowed him to survive this long, although it is possible he has, through arcane rites, managed such a feat on his own.
            3) Neblin, The Wizard of the Tree:  Neblin is a curious, seemingly wizened yet spry gnome wizard, who has lived for a very, very long time, and gone quite mad, although that madness has not seemed to affect his abilities any.  The surest way to win his friendship is with the gift of a rare or unique spoon.  He is obsessed with spoons, and collects them constantly, occasionally disappearing from the city for a period of about a week, whereupon his return he is suddenly bereft of them, only to begin collecting them anew.  These absences are frowned upon by much of the city and the Parliament.  However, as Neblin is better than any at solving any mysterious crimes that occur, these periodic lapses of duty are tolerated.  No one knows why he is called the Wizard of the Tree, other than that is what he calls himself; the reason behind the title has never been given, and when questioned on it Neblin grows irritated and evasive.  He has been on the council for 100 years, and seems to have had a prior friendship with Lucien.  He also appears quite skilled at the Bardic arts.  He plays the flute. 
            4) Shana the Wood Elf Druid:  Shana is a Wood Elf of great age and Druidic power.  Though it would seem strange to have a Druid serving within the bounds of a city, Her Gate lies near a forest, and often she can be found passing through that domain, protecting travelers and warding off dangers before they can even reach the city.  These woods are known as Shana’s Wood.  She has been a member of the Twelve since its founding. 
            5) Hagen, an Adult Copper Dragon:  When appearing in humanoid form, he prefers not to in any way hide his nature, and so always appears in a way not dissimilar from a dragonborn or a half-dragon.   Oddly, this means he is the most often mistaken of the dragons on the Twelve for something other than a dragon, for his is the appearance most like another species of creature, and so he often find himself at the receiving end of disrespect and even violence, a situation that Brent is not actually disturbed by (Although he does show mercy in any such conflicts that arise).  The youngest of the dragons on the Twelve, he is nevertheless still a founding member.  
            6) Ulfgar, The Dwarf Machinist:  A Mountain Dwarf of rare age, yet still of hearty build, Ulfgar is tinkerer and engineer with a variety of skills amassed over the course of his long life.  He is adept at magic and skilled at building things.  He commands a variety of Golems and Shield Guardians who serve If as a practical police force.  He is also responsible, often working with Lucien, in building a variety of technological marvels that greatly benefit the city.  A member of the 12 for 150 years, he is responsible for the introduction of indoor plumbing to much of If. 
            7) Orsina, The Tiefling Sorceress:  A maroon-skinned beauty, with rams horns, like many of the members of the Twelve she appears to be much younger than she is.  She has been a member of the Twelve for 300 years, and her continued presence there has created a large Tiefling community within If, as many Tieflings have sought the city out as a refuge against persecution elsewhere.  With Orsina’s presence, they know they can count on equal treatment there. 
            8)  Karla, Halfling Cleric of the Ancestors:  Perhaps the only member of the Twelve who is a native of If, Karla went out adventuring a little over a century ago.  When she returned 35 years later, she submitted to the gauntlet to replace a previous Halfling on the council.  Like many Halfings of Gull, she holds that there is a special afterlife to which Halfings go, forming a special land beyond this one from which the ancestors look down upon their descendants and seek to aid those who give worship to them.  Karla is of normal height for a Halfling, and mostly keeps to her Gatehouse and the Ancestral Temple built nearby.  While she is getting to be quite old for a Halfling, her Clerical powers are undiminished.  She spends much of her time teaching other Halflings in the worship of the Ancestors.
            9) Silva, an Ancient Silver Dragon: Like many other Silver dragons, Silva appears most often in humanoid form while moving among the city.  She often appears as a very tall woman, with silvery skin and jet-black hair, in a long flowing silver robe.  Occasionally, silver wings sprout from her back, and she flies about the city not unlike a demon or a harpy, where her keen eyesight and hearing allows her to spot any altercations that may be happening below.  Though Silva is not yet an ancient dragon, she has nevertheless spent her time among humanoids learning and mastering arcane magic, both as a wizard and a sorcereress.  She is one of the founding members of the Twelve.
            10)  Carina Aum, Human Paladin of Oomphalos: Oomphalos is a god who represents the center of all things.  In addition to training in the arts of Paladin, Carina has skills as a Monk of Oomphalos as well.  Her Gatehouse is in part a temple to Oomphalos, though people passing through are not required to make donations (though many do).  Carina uses a modest apartment upon the top level of the Gatehouse as her quarters.  Carina is recognizable for her great height and blue woad hair, which she dyes, for blue is the color most sacred to Oomphalos. Carina came to join the Council following the completion of her adventures about a hundred years ago, and was drawn there due to the Island of If reminding her of the World Navel, upon which Oomphalos can be found sitting.  She often can be found patrolling the city, wearing her simple, woad-dyed Monk's attire.   She is the most open and outgoing of the Twelve.
            11)  Grog the Barbarian:  Grog is a great, monstrous Half-Orog Fighter.  Standing nearly 8 feet in height, with skin as tough as armor, and covered in magical adornments won in quests across the continents, he can fight entire armies and emerge victorious.  He has settled into his gate house with his young Half-Orc wife, and is now the father of 12 children, although 6 have already gone off in search of adventure.   He has been among the twelve for 72 years. 
            12) Bruun the Ancient Bronze Dragon:  Like many dragons that choose to live among mortal creatures, Bruun takes the appearance of a humanoid when not alone.  He often appears as an aged old man with a long beard, tall enough to most likely be human, although his features are indistinct between elf and man.  The eldest of the Dragons of the Twelve, he has trained also as a Bard and Wizard.  He often plays the lute, but is also skilled as well at the harp and harpsichord.  He has been a member of the Twelve since its founding.

            At about the center of If, there is an island in the River Still, known as the Island of If.  It is on this Island that the major government and religious structures of the city are housed, as well as select houses of the wealthiest residents.  To maintain some separation between the elected parliament and the Power of the Twelve Protectors, a Member of the Twelve may not set foot upon the Island without a formal invitation from the Parliament. 
            On a stone square by the banks of the River Still, near the Island of If, there stands the Tower of If.  This Tower has stood there since well before the Founding of the Twelve Protectors.  It is formed from four separate, square towers, arranged along the corners of a square, curving towards each other until they join together as a single structure, thinning as it rises higher and higher.  There are no visible doors along the bottom, but in the center between the bases there is a circle made from different colored stone.  If a person stands upon there, they may request entrance, and will be teleported to a similar circle on the first layer of the tower directly above them.  There is a great open area inside the tower, with an opening in the middle on all four sides, shortly after the base first joins together, that is several stories in height.  From higher parts of the city, it can be observed that a garden grows upon this level.   
            The Tower of If is inhabited by The Wizard Flem.  Though not a Member of the Twelve Protectors, it is believed he was involved in their formation, so as to insure the protection of the city in which he built his Tower.  He is seen by some as the city’s private benefactor, although he holds no elected post, and whatever activities he pursues are shrouded in secrecy.  His appearance and race are not commonly known, as he tends, if he walks among the city or takes visitors, to alter and disguise his appearance, though he seems to be one of the taller races, with skin the color of aged paper.  He is often bearded, and, if that is not part of a common disguise, it is reasoned he is most likely human, although none know for sure. 
            One of the major draws to the City of If is the Pyramid of Art, a structure built mostly underground, with only the tip of its pyramid structure rising above ground.  Once entering the pyramid, a series of steps takes one down into great architectural spaces, in which some of the finest artworks from all across Auros and beyond are on exhibit.  The Pyramid of Art is run not by the Parliament or the Twelve Protectors, but by an elite counsel of merchants known as the Iffian Traders Guild.