Sunday, March 27, 2011, 8:54 PM
"The best songs are not sung,
but parried, slashed, and stung."
Role: Striker. Your few spells might inspire and invigorate your allies, but your artistic performance is the deadly dance you perform with your blades.
Power Source: Arcane and Martial. Magic weaves seamlessly with your graceful combat maneuvers, in a blend of swordplay and artistic spellcasting.
Key Abilities: Charisma, Dexterity
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather.
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged, military ranged, longsword, scimitar, short sword.
Implement: Heavy blades, light blades.
Bonus to Defense: +1 Reflex, +1 Will.
Hit Points at 1st Level: 12+ Constitution Score.
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Day: 7+ Constitution Modifier.
Trained Skills: Acrobatics. From the class skills list below, choose 4 more trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Arcana (Int), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Dungeoneering (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Nature (Wis), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Streetwise (Cha).
Build Options: Blade Bard.
Class features: Lesser Bardic Training, Bardic Virtue, Multiclass Versatility, Skill Versatility, Offensive Spin, Defensive Spin, Quick Blade, Blade Dance
BLADE CLASS FEATURES
You can select any Bardic Virtue, but virtually all Blades choose the Virtue of The Blade that defines their style.
Virtue of The Blade
You use your Dexterity score to calculate attack bonus and damage for basic attacks made with Light Blades and Heavy Blades.
When you score a critical hit with these weapons, you can choose to gain a +1 bonus to all defenses against the target's attacks until the end of the encounter or impose to the target a -2 penalty to all its defenses against your attacks until the end of your next turn.
You alternate your main-hand and off-hand weapon with all your attacks, never attacking with the same weapon two consecutive times.
You also gain the Two-Weapon Defense feat even if you don't meet the requirements.
Martial, Arcane, Stance
You gain a +2 bonus to speed and damage rolls and you can shift two squares with a move action even through squares occupied by enemies, but you grant Combat Advantage. If you miss an enemy while in this stance, you can't use it again until the end of your next turn.
You can use the Quick Blade power while under the Offensive Spin stance's effects.
Martial, Arcane, Weapon
Minor action (once per turn)
Requirement: You must be wielding a heavy blade and a light blade
Attack: Cha VS Reflex
Hit: [1W], and you shift 1 square.
Special: You can use this power as a free action against an adjacent enemy that misses you or an ally.
Martial, Arcane, Stance
You gain a +3 bonus to all defenses but you are Slowed and you can't use Standard Actions. At the end of your turn, all enemies adjacent to you take damage equal to your Dex modifier, and each enemy that starts its turn adjacent to you or enters a square adjacent to you takes damage equal to your Dex modifier. In addition, you can take a Standard Action as an Immediate Interrupt when an enemy hits you. If an enemy hits you and deals damage to you while in this stance, you can't use it again until the end of your next turn.
Martial, Arcane, Attack, Weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding a heavy blade and a light blade
Attack: Cha VS AC, two attacks
Special: Make an extra attack against each enemy damaged by your Defensive Spin after the end of your last turn.
Special: If you hit with Quick Blade during this turn, shift 1 square before and after each attack.
Hit: [1W]+Cha modifier damage and choose one of the following:
- Adamant Razor Dance: Until the end of your next turn you deal maximum damage with Quick Blade, or deal an extra [1W]+Cha damage on a critical hit.
- Silver Veil Dance: Until the end of your next turn you have Total Concealment.
- Cold Iron Dance: Enemies provoke OAs from the target and the target must attack them.
- Mithril Flash Dance: You deal your Cha modifier radiant and pychic damage to the targets and you teleport your speed.
11th level: [2W]
21st level: [3W]
1st Level: (You also gain a Bard At-will power)
3rd Level: Gain a second use per encounter of your Blade Dance power.
7th Level: Gain a third use per encounter of your Blade Dance power.
[Utility and Daily powers taken from Bard]
[New powers could be made and they could be taken by normal bards too.]
Monster's turn: Dex mod damage for starting adjacent, Dex mod for shifting to other square.
Blade's turn: Offensive Spin (minor action), Quick Blade (minor action), Blade Dance (three attacks against the target, two plus one because it was damaged by Defensive Spin, shift 6 squares total), Adamant Razor Dance.
Monster's turn: Maxed Quick Blade for missing.
Blade's Turn: Maxed Quick Blade, basic attack.
Assuming Bastard Sword and Short Sword, and +5 Dex and +5 Cha:
5+5+5(short)+12(bastard)+10(short)+12(...)+8+12+5=84 damage (7 attacks, 2 auto-damaging)
THEME OF THE CLASS:
Have fun being the blade-dancer of legend and attacking and damaging multiple times per round, alternating a defensive style to an offensive style, but beware: you don't have total control: when you miss using Offensive Spin, you loose it for two turns, same goes when you're hit while using Defensive Spin. Blade Dance is made to be used as a combo, after having succesfully damaged the maximum number of enemies with Defensive Spin and right after activating Offensive Spin (must have it available to benefit). Feats could modify any element of the class, particularly Blade Dance and its on-hit effects (maybe adding effects on miss), and the Spins.
The augmented critical may be too much even if it's limtied to out of turn attacks. All needs playtesting!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 8:00 PM
Merfolk Observer (previously knows as Ilori's Spy) by Anthony Francisco
New archetypes for a new world
One of the most fun things about "converting" Zendikar to D&D is building characters for it.
There are more than a hundred cards in the MtG Zendikar block that represent "playable characters", and they are a great source of inspiration. - Here's a post by me with what should be the full collection, organized by type and presented as full scans and in a images-only, 3-column layout - A look at illustrations, a look at card mechanics, and a draft of D&D character already comes to mind, and chances are it's an original concept, a new take on an old one, or either way something fun to build and play.
Such is the extension of the cool factor woven into Zendikar by its designers.
And even without looking at a particular card, consistent themes are there too, ingrained in the flavor of Zendikar races, regions, and "story".
But in what do Zendikar characters differ from other seetings' characters?
Well, the characters themselves, if "abducted" from Zendikar mechanically, would not seem very different. They do use homebrew races more often than not, but apart from that, you could see them easily in the Forgotten Realms or in Eberron.
Well, I guess it depends on who builds them too, but strangely enough, the characters of our PbP game taking place here in the group, are all peculiar in some way, they are solid in a particular way: they have Zendikar feel! You can take a look at out game in this section of our forum.
I think I'll also make a separate blog post talking about our characters and maybe their first encounter, but you can peek at their character sheets hosted at Obsidian Portal in the mean time:
- - - Cylonea: Merfolk (Zendikar race), hybrid Artificer/Shaman (Worldspeaker)
- - - (Unnamed): Genasi Cindersoul, Mage (Pyromancer) MC Ranger
- - - Sigg Starleaf: Wilden, Sentinel Druid (Spring) MC Assassin
- - - Hoist en-Kor: Kor (Zendikar race), Seeker (Spirit Bond)
So let's define what would this "Zendikar feel" be, speaking of characters, with a handful of brainstormed bullets (by a bulletstormed brain? )
- Adaptability: Zendikar is a really treacherous place. Not in the Dark Sun's utterly-killer-way, but more in an Elemental Chaos physical-unpredictability-way. The environment is subject to abrupt changes, and the beasts and hazards that adventurers face are still alive or active because they have adapted to this unpredictability, often by becoming unpredictable themselves. A one-trick-pony character is quite at risk in Zendikar, because hardly will a single trick work more than a few times in the plane's wilds or dungeons.
- Skilfulness: It's quite clear that skills play a major role in Zendikar, more than in other places, because combat with monsters or enemies is not the most frequent or arguably the most dangerous challenge of the setting. And because of the previous point, having a few maxed-out skills won't help much either, unless there's a very high level of optimization party-wise. And it's not just about the actual mechanical Skills. By "Skilful", a intend a character which has tricks up his sleeve for non-combat situations. Feats, powers, and quite about every mechanical element can be geared towards this, and it should be: Zendikar characters can't afford to focus all their resources on combat prowess.
- Teamwork: This is of course true in any setting, but in Zendikar, due to the previous points, it simply goes to different levels. It's not just about having the right roles covered up in the party (our party is working great without any Striker or Defender, two leaders and two controllers!), but more about being able to rescue critical situations, being skilled in a helpful area of expertise, or helping other party members to be more adaptable. Thinking about it, this is exactly what Leaders and Controllers do best, this is probably the reason behind our party's strength.
- Terrain awareness: Terrain is crucial in Zendikar. Difficult Terrain is just the mild start. Characters should be built with an eye towards terrain, and that's also why all the "core Zendikar" races have at least one feature geared towards movement or terrain coping. Which brings me to...
- Verticality: Nearly all places in Zendikarare characterized by strong verticality. In other words, if your character is not able to climb, jump really well, or fly in some way, he or she is in trouble. The core races play a good role in helping this, but it's easy to overlook this during character building. Again, any mechanical element can be of help, whether it's feats, skill powers, combat powers, or items. Which brings me to...
- Tools: Adventurers have a difficult life in Zendikar, but it happens to the way of living of Zendikar. Nearly every civilized outpost is completely bent on adventuring, with the "expeditionary houses" being among the most important organization of the setting. So adventurers at least have it easy when it comes to prepare for adventures. So they have no excuses: they must be prepared. Which means you got to fill that backpack and fill it well!
So let's get in the middle of things, and build a character inspired by the heading artwork and the card it appears in!
Observer. This will be the underlying theme of the character, and as you can see it's something original, not a major buzz-word of the D&D language. It's not even something that sounds heroic. So again, let's do some brainstorming on the theme.
- Observer means knowing when not to act: this is a spy-type, a character whose first purpose is to gather information, or "intel." about the enemy or the objective. A solitary type that goes behind enemy lines in "recon"-like missions.
- Stealth: this should be central to the build. If your purpose is to gather potentially vital information on the enemy, your first objective is to survive surrounded by hostiles, and no better way to do that than by hiding.
- Ranged: when it's time to attack, better do it from a safe distance, and wait for reinforcements.
- Movement: movement is crucial for this character.
- Leading: at least partially, this should be a leader. And in particular, a leader that uses the information he gathered to direct his allies in the right places, or at the right moments.
- Martial: even if not entirely, this character should be martial. Especially because he/she must not be some rare exception of his race or group, but one of many individuals that undergo a similar process of specialization in forward observing.
- Merfolk are natural experimenters and innovators: besides being the masters of the arcane arts in Zendikar, Merfolk are famous for being solitary and able to teach to themselves (and others) many different things. So there's potential for a hybrid character, possibly mixing two very different classes.
- There are game elements that serve this character well: and here they are:
- Rogue, and in particular the Shadowy Rogue, using the Cunning Sneak tactics. A focus on Stealth, some points into Intelligence, a martial striker.
- Warlord. Since Martial Power 2, it's able to use Wisdom (which should be good to have a high Perception modifier), and has a power that i already quietly cited: Forward Observer. This power is not exactly spectacular, but it's an at-will utility which enables other characters to benefit from the advantageous point of view and superior perception of our Merfolk Observer.
- Dune Trader, the character theme from Dark Sun, is spectacuarly fit for our concept. It focuses on shifting allies, its attacks can be ranged or melee weapon without incurring in MAD problems, and it's also very Merfolk-like. Just refluff it into "Wave Trader" or similar.
- Ranger is another class that fits. Because our observing will take place in the wild mostly.
- Assassin. Strangely enough, it fits, mostly due to one feature/power: Shade Form. Even if it can feel to magical for this character, it's quite obvious that a Merfolk would recur to these kind of tricks. It requires the character to refrain from making attacks to sustain the form, but combining it with Warlord, it's quite possible to stay in it while making the allies do the attacks!
A strange hybrid
So here is the first try at this strange build: a strange hybrid Warlord-Assassin!
- Hybrid Warlord/Assassin
- Hybrid Talent: Shade Form
- Warlord Leadership: Battlefront Shift (use heavy shield if needed, extra shifting)
- Psionic cantrip: Sensing Eye (just perfect!)
- - - Direct The Strike (doesn't brake Shade Form!),
- - - Executioner's Noose (and frequent ranged basic attacks)
- - - Forward Observer (at-will, any ally who can see or hear you doesn't suffer from partial concealment or partial cover penalties while attacking an enemy you can see)
- - - Shadowed Legion (daily stance: allies share your Stealth modifier, which is insanely high due to background, racial bonus, and high Dex)
- - - Provocative Order (doesn't brake Shade Form: make an aly charge with a +1W damage bonus)
- - - Delaying Strike [Dune trader Theme]: melee or ranged, slows the enemy and each nearby ally shifts half their speed!
- - - Camouflage (+5 stealth in the wild with partial concealment or partial cover),
- - - Mark Of Detection (roll two times for Perception, some thematic rituals),
- - - Scouting Team (Merfolk racial: enables another character to gain an extra move action during a Surprise Round. Merfolk already benefit from this)
- - - Swift Footwork (extra 2 squares of shifting when shifting due to Encounter or Daily powers)
- - - Multiclass: Ranger (Warrior of The Wild)
Here's a a link to Google Docs-hosted character sheet made with the Character Builder (ability scores are unoptimized). As you will see, we got a character that is able to stealth with ease, let her allies do the dirty work, intervening only when needed and always in a meaningful way (but striking hard), and has a focus on perception.
The role-play opportunities and non-combat playing with this character are incredible in my opinion. We got a completely new concept, a support character that can occasionally strike hard and is a movement focused enabler of actions for his allies. It can render the whole party stealthy, it can benefit from Insubstantial while still being useful with Shade Form + attack enablers, and is perfect for surprising enemies and let other party members benefit from it.
If by any chance you'd like to play such a character inside her native world of Zendikar, I shouldn't be reminding you that you're in the right place.
Saturday, November 13, 2010, 5:07 PM
I've recently came back to the community after a relatively short hiatus, and I quickly put some more material up in the Zendikar-D&D project's group, more specifically its forums.
I started the project myself, but only because after doing some teasing on the forums and setting up a poll, I noticed that (as I suspected) I wasn't the only one out there thinking Zendikar could be one hell of a D&D setting, other than a beautiful Magic The Gathering "plane" in which the big block of cards is "set".
Besides putting up two new races (Kor and Surrakar) bringing the total of new playable races to four (with Merfolk and Guul Draaz Vampires), I've been doing some "recruitment", as I like to call it: I visit the People section of the community website and perform an advanced research, looking for people who plays both D&D and Magic and who read Magic novels. The idea is that if they both play and read about Magic The Gathering, they surely know about Zendikar, and if they also play D&D, they could appreciate the spirit of the Zendikar-D&D project, and maybe participate in the realization of the needed material.
Most of the times, recruited members become silent watchers of the forums, but some times I score big and find someone who is really enthusiast. It was the case with Veritatis, who even did an adaption of Zendikar in D&D putting it nothing less than inside Eberron! And cleverly "disguising it" as the continet of Xen'Drik, which is clearly perfect for the job - I wonder why I didn't think about it before.
While waiting for Veritatis to explain us the details of his adaption after his teasing first post about it, I also made contact with PaladinOfSunhome, who is instead a beginner on the D&D side, but an RP lover nonetheless. Having understandingly confused the project with some kind of play-by-post group, he gave me another "why didn't I think about it before?"-moment: after all it would be nearly impossible to play a D&D game set in Zendikar locally, since probably no one knows enough people who love the two things at once. But the Zendikar-D&D group is just tailor-made for those people and it already reunites 38 of them and counting, so which better way to really play inside Zendikar for the first time than organizing a PbP game inside the group!?
I did a bit of research on the matter, since I never really understood how PbP worked, and it turned out to be much simpler than I expected. I first thought I would have needed a "PbP expert" to join us and help us setting it up, but I quickly discovered there's no need of such a thing. All we need is someone creative enough to be the Game Master, and players!
I'm actually thinking of splitting the Game Master role in two: the GM that invents the story and everything and interacts with the players and the "technician" who creates missing mechanics such as monsters and traps on the fly when they're required (and I would be that one, thank you! ). One could even volunteer to be the GM without even having to invent the adventure and story: a third person could create that and let it be run by the "Face"-GM.
So, here are some useful links, both poiting to the awesome Play By Post Haven group:
The game will of course require some discussion first, and I set up a brainstorming thread in our group for anyone to discuss about the possible adventures and locales, and another one for aspiring players to post their characters or character-ideas. I even already put them in a dedicated sub-forum of the main Zendikar - D&D forum.
Note that these forums are open to anybody even if they reside inside a group so feel free to post, everyone.
For more info on Zendikar and its D&D adaption you can go directly to the intro post I made for the project, which is filled to the brim with links to official lore and material (not to mention awe-inspiring artwork), and you could also take a look at my blog post detailing how Zendikar as a world is a perfect Points Of Light type of setting.
Thanks to everybody who supports the project/group and thanks in advance to anyone who will like to contribute even with a few posts in the forums!
And of course, happy play-by-posting in Zendikar to anyone who will embark on the mission!
- ALL THE IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF WIZARDS OF THE COAST. -
Thursday, October 14, 2010, 7:38 PM
The Shadow Nefarite PrC by Lord Archaon
Originally Posted by LordArchaon
"We are students of ancient and noble arts. Sightings of demons and scary shadows don't bother us and we don't know anything about these shadow nefarites. Go away and leave us alone."
- Kyaus Nakane "Smoking Glare", shadow nefarite of the Hidden Moon sect.
Shadow nefarites may be very different from each other and may come from very different backgrounds.
What they have in common is that they are mysteriously touched by demonic energies (or have become so during their advancement), they study the gloomy ways of Shadow Magic and they are capable stalkers, spies, assassins or generally speaking "rogues", who take advantage from their supernatural powers to accomplish their secretive deeds.
They nearly always work alone and are very individualistic, but nevertheless belong to sects or "dojos" (if you play in an oriental-style setting, from which the original version of this converted and modified PrC is, see the "Way of the Ninja" book and look for the "Shosuro Tejina" PrC).
These sects may have dark and evil purposes or maybe even constitute a rare group of secret vigilantes that use their dark powers for good causes. In general, the first purpose of every sect is to teach the ways of Shadow Magic and the various secrets of the shadow nefarites to the most promising and willing adepts.
All in all, shadow nefarites are scary and even if sometimes they may even be heroes, they more often act like the dark demons that inhabit their souls.
BECOMING A SHADOW NEFARITE
Shadow nefarites are a diversified lot. Their chaotic nature makes them receive different benefits depending on what they were before becoming shadow nefarites.
In particular, there are four known "ways" that the shadow nefarite's powers offer and they are the Stalker's Way that is accessible if the shadow nefarite had level in the ninja class, the Ascetic Way available to the ones who had levels in the monk class, the Rogue's Way available to anyone who had enough rogue levels or has the ability to deal considerable damage with a sneak attack and finally the Warrior's Way which is exclusive to martial characters who had some experience with the Shadow Hand discipline, which is remarkably tied to shadow magic.
Another peculiarity of the shadow nefarite's powers is the way they learn shadow magic. If they didn't have experience in shadowcasting before entering the prestige class, they still learn shadow magic, but will rely upon different abilities to cast their mysteries and while they will never learn the most powerful mysteries (shadow magic spells), they will be eventually able to cast them more times. On the other hand, if the shadow nefarite previously had some shadowcasting experience, which means levels in the shadowcaster or shadow warrior
classes, she will be able to learn the most powerful mysteries available to shadow nefarites.
It is important to note that most shadow nefarites that didn't have shadowcasting experience still had some eldritch ties to magic by the means of the Abyssal Heritor feat named Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. This strange feat could represent an inborn peculiarity of the character or the touch of demonic knowledge acquired while studying the ancient tomes that describe the ways of shadow nefarites.
Monks who become shadow nefarites often take the Ordered Chaos feat in order to stay of lawful alignment in spite of the chaotic influences of the abyssal heritor feats gained during the advancement in the shadow nefarite prestige class. These individuals often have levels of shadowcaster and usually become the grand masters of the sects, due to their lawful alignment and their superior focus and motivation.
In conclusion, shadow nefarites may be ninjas, monks, rogues or even swordsages with the Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge feat, or some levels of shadowcaster or simply be shadow warriors
, which is the most simple and balanced way to become shadow nefarites. Less common background include some levels in the lurk or spellthief classes or even stranger combinations. Consider that having levels in more than one class that give access to different shadow nefarite's ways may slow the advancement, but could also make for a very flexible and unique character, since it is possible to take different shadow nefarite's ways during the advancement.
Alignment: Not Lawful Good, not Neutral Good.
Base Attack Bonus: +4.
Skills: Hide 9 ranks, Move Silently 9 ranks.
Feats: any Abyssal Heritor feat. (Keeper of Forbidden Lore may help satisfy other requirements).
The two different choices below may lead to different spellcasting progressions and caster level acquirement or advancement.
Shadowcasting: Ability to cast 1st level mysteries, OR
Skills: Knowledge(the planes) 6 ranks, Spellcraft 6 ranks.
Depending on which or how many of the following requirements are fulfilled, you may choose different class features.
STALKER'S WAY - Special: Ghost Step class feature, AND/OR
ASCETIC WAY - Feats: Ordered Chaos and Stunning Fist, AND/OR
ROGUE WAY - Special: +3d6 Sneak Attack, AND/OR
ARTIST'S WAY- Feats: Chord of Distraction and Subsonics, AND/OR
LURK'S WAY - Special: Lurk Augment (Deceptive Strike), AND/OR
MARTIAL WAY - Martial Maneuvers: Must know the Assassin's Stance and two Shadow Hand maneuvers of at least 2nd level, AND/OR...
The class may give different class features depending on your previous classes, eventually leading to choices among different features. It also give random feats that at some point may change the alignment of the character, making it chaotic. Read carefully.
Table 1: The Shadow Nefarite Hit Die: 1d6
Lv BAB Fort. Ref. Will Special
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Abyssal Ways (Twilight), SA/SS +1d6
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Black Code
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Shadow Demon Skin 1/day
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 SA/SS +2d6
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Chaotic Spell Recall, Abyssal Ways (Darkness)
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Shadows and Air
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 SA/SS +3d6
8th +6 +2 +6 +6 Shadow Demon Skin 3/day
9th +6 +3 +6 +6 Abyssal Heritor feat
10th +7 +3 +7 +7 SA/SS +4d6, Abyssal Ways (Shadow)
Table 2: Mysteries known.
Lv Mysteries known and type of casting
1st 3 Fundamentals
2nd +1 level of shadowcaster
3rd +1 level of shadowcaster
4th +1 level of shadowcaster
5th +1 level of shadowcaster
6th +1 level of shadowcaster
7th +1 level of shadowcaster
8th +1 level of shadowcaster
9th +1 level of shadowcaster
10th +1 level of shadowcaster
Class Skills (4+int modifier per level): Balance, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Disable Device, Disguise, Escape Artist, Gather Information, Hide, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Open Lock, Perform (Kuji-Kiri), Profession, Search, Spellcraft, Spot, Tumble, Use Rope.
Weapons and Armor Proficiencies: You gain no new weapon, armor or shield proficencies.
Mysteries and Paths: You do not cast spells as other classes do, but instead invoke mystical secrets called mysteries.
If you didn't have levels in other mystery-using (shadowcasting) classes before, you gain access to the shadow nefarite list (table 3, below), each class level counts as caster level, and you learn mysteries and fundamentals at the same rate a shadowcaster does (excluding the first 3 Fundamentals, that you gain separately at first level), but may choose them only from the shadow nefarite list.
Instead, if you had levels in other shadowcasting classes, the first level of shadow neafrite doesn't count as caster level; you maintain access to the mysteries of those classes, but will have to follow the rules described in the Black Code (see above).
For the reasons explained in the Tome of Magic book, if you haven't access to other mystery lists, at 9th and 10th level you will only be able to re-learn other mysteries, gaining more uses, because you will not have enough 4th level mysteries to learn one of the next level and so on.
In order to cast a mystery from the Shadow Nefarite's list you must have a Wisdom (or Intelligence if you had levels in the shadowcaster class) score of 10+the mystery's level. The save DC for your mysteries equals 10+the mystery's level+your Cha modifier.
Table 3: The Shadow Nefarite's mysteries and paths
FUNDAMENTAL MYSTERIES:Fundamental Mysteries
APPRENTICE PATH MYSTERIES:Apprentice Path Mysteries
Dark Sleep: A limited Sleep with potentially bad drawbacks for the caster.
SAVE: Fortitude. (Just to make it different... And less powerful against warrior-types)
TARGET: One creature (creatures immune to magical sleep are not immune to Dark Sleep)
DURATION: 1 round/level
Shadows infiltrate the creature's brain, making them sleep briefly or for a longer time, depending on their strength.
As Sleep with the above and following exceptions:
Affected creature HDs are 1 per caster level (up to 10).
A successful save makes the creature "sleep awake" for 1 round: the creature will attack you with the best attack options available (spell-users may try to blast you with attack spells), pinpointing you even if you were hidden, since its hyper-conscious level lets it locate the origin of the strange power that affected its mind. After that round the creature will act normally and will have a chance to learn your position with a +5 bonus to the related skill check.
A failed save makes the creature sleep as normal for the spell, with the exception of the limited duration of the effect.
Note that creatures with more HDs than the limit are completely unaffected, they don't even "sleep awake" for 1 round if they succeed or fail the save.
Kuji-Kiri: A difficult but efficient magical hypnosis technique.
Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-affecting]
CASTING TIME: 1 swift action
DURATION: Concentration + 1 round/half caster levels (see text)
TARGET: One humanoid or animal.
Your glare and movements feed a hypnotic shadow in your target's mind so that it could spend hours just looking at you.
You must concentrate on this fundamental with a full-round action, using a special Perform (Kuji-Kiri) check instead of the Concentration check. During this performance you are only able to make a 5 ft. (1,5 m) step each round, as normal.
Note that the magical art of Kuji-Kiri is very difficult and just to keep active the "concentration", you must succeed a DC 20 Perform (Kuji-Kiri) check. Every concentration-related check to mantain concentration in adverse conditions has its DC higher by 5 points.
If the target fails the save against this fundamental, it can't perform any action for the duration, and it doesn't have a second chance of saving against the effect untill some loud noise disturbs the area, in which case the target is allowed a second saving throw. If someone breaks up the caster's concentration, the caster goes out of range, or the target gets any damage, the effect ends immediately.
Note that after you end your concentration, the creature you had targeted will be able to act normally, but will not remember anything of what happenned for a number of rounds equal to half your caster level.
Reflection of Memory: A limited Disguise Self affecting only one target.
Reflection of Memory
DURATION: 10 minutes
You may let someone perceive you as another person, as your connection to shadows makes you appear different.
As Disguise Self, but affects only one target at a time.
Silent Soul: You make another mystery more powerful against flat-footed enemies.
CASTING TIME: 1 swift action
DURATION: 1 round
SAVE: Will (harmless)
SR: Yes (harmless)
A chaotic conduit between you and the shadows comes into being into your soul, making your mysteries more deadly when you cast them to opponents that you could easily back-stab.
You cast this fundamental with a swift action. The next mystery you cast in that round has its DC raised by 1 plus 1 every 5 caster levels (maximum of 3 at caster level 10) if the target is flat-footed or unaware that it is the target of the mystery.
Silent Soul can only enhance mysteries of one spell level (beginning from level 0) for every two caster levels, up to a maximum of seventh level mysteries at caster level 15.
Silent Sound: The touched object becomes completely silent.
DURATION: 10 minutes/level
SAVE: Fortitude (object, harmless)
SR: Yes (harmless)
You cover the object in a thin layer of shadows, making it completely noiseless.
The touched objects will emit no sound for the duration of the mystery (spell). Not even if it collides with other non-enchanted objects.
If you cast this fundamental on your boots, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on move silently.
1 - Whispers of Nothingness: Easily hide and move silently even while moving.
Whispers of Nothingness
DURATION: 1 minute/level
When you move, the shadows around you seem to flow following your movements, allowing you to become even less noticeable.
You can move up to normal speed with no penalties to Hide and Move Silently checks. You can run or charge with only a -10 penalty to Hide and Move Silently checks, instead of -20.
In addition, this mystery increases your base land speed by 10 ft. (treated as an enhancement bonus).
2 - Jealous Fury of Ededei: Dazzle with flash, then blind with darkness.
Jealous Fury of Ededei (Blinding Darkness)
Evocation [Light, Darkness] (Shadow)
DURATION: 1 round/level (up to 10)
AREA: 9m(30ft) radius emanation
SAVE: Reflexes, see text
You control the light and shadows of the area making it very bright for an instant and very dark an instant later
A bright flash makes all creatures in the area Dazzled for 1 round. Then the area is obscured, reducing any vision by 75%. Creatures that fail the save are treated as Blinded for the duration of the effect, excluding the first round in which they were Dazzled.
The mystery doesn't function if a light spell of 2nd level or higher is active in the area.
3 - Shadow Twin: Create an illusory twin to confuse opponents.
DURATION: 1 minute/level
EFFECT: One shadow double
You create a perfect double of yourself with shadows. While it's only an image, your opponents cannot know who of the two is the real one.
Your first attack each round gains a circumstance bonus equal to 1 + 1 every 5 caster levels (up to 3 without Shadowcaster levels or 5 at 20th level, with Shadowcaster levels and Practiced Spellcaster) as your opponents try to defend themselves from both you and your double.
All attacks directed on you the round you cast the mystery are made as if you had total concealment (50% miss chance). The round after, your opponents know which of the two is the real one and can attack you without penalties.
You can swap your position with that of the Shadow Twin once per caster level with an immediate action. This allows you to to do an additional 1,5m step even out of your turn (since you and the Shadow Twin are always at that distance one from the other) and also reactivates total concealment for that round. Additionaly, if engaged in melee combat, the 1,5m step may take you out of range and effectively negate all the attacks.
When you swapped position with your Shadow Twin all the available times, the mystery ends.
1 - Darken The Veil of Sleep: Infuse a deeper state of sleeping.
Darken The Veil of Sleep
DURATION: 10 minutes/level (originally 1 hour)
SAVE: Fortitude, see text
By evoking a small portion of shadow inside the brain of a sleeping creature, you make its sleep nearly-comatose for some time.
If the touched creature failed the saving throw, it's not going to wake up, regardless of noise for the duration of the mystery (spell). Any damage will wake up the creature.
Note that the mystery also affects creatures that are "sleeping awake" because of a Dark Sleep effect.
A successful saving throw makes the creature wake up the next round, regardless of any previous sleep effect, or before if the previous sleep effect had already finished.
2 - Fierce Shuriken: Greatly enhance a few projectile or thrown weapons.
DURATION: 1 minute/level
TARGET: Up to 1 thrown or proyectile weapon per 2 caster levels (minimum of 1)
You infuse your shurikens or similar weapons with the power of Shadow.
The affected thrown weapons are treated as being made of Shadowstriking metal (they automatically pass any damage reduction) for the duration of the spell. Additionally, sneak attacks or any other precision damage inflicted with these weapons, applies even beyond 9 meters (30 feet).
3 - Edge of Nothing: Make a weapon supernaturally sharp.
Edge of Nothing (or Edge of Pure Shadow)
DURATION: 1 round/half caster level (minimum of 1)
TARGET: A weapon
You perfect your weapon, by converting all the flawed parts of it to pure shadows, rendering its edges incredibly sharp.
The critical range of the weapon is increased by 1 point + 1 every 10 caster levels (up to 2 with no Shadowcaster levels or 3 at 20th level, with Shadowcaster levels and Practiced Spellcaster). This effects stacks with any other feat or magical weapon that increases critical range.
Additionally, if rolling to confirm a critical hit you roll another critical, your critical multiplier is increased by one.
INITIATE PATH MYSTERIES:
4 - Shadow Brother: Create a quasi-real double of yourself.
DURATION: 1 round/level
RANGE: Up to 15m (50ft)
You conjure a real double of yourself: a true brother of shadows.
As Shadow Twin with the above and following exceptions:
Your double is now more than an image and has half your hit points, half your skill ranks, your AC, your BAB with a -5 penalty, but cannot cast any spells, powers or mysteries you know. Its equipment is the same of yours, but magical weapons loose any enhancement (although are still considered magical in order to bypass any damage reduction) and magical objects that produce any spell effect, (such as scrolls, wands, rings and others) can't be used by the Shadow Brother at all.
You can control it with a free action for as long as it remains within range.
5 - Goju's Embrace: Empower your ties to the abyss and receive new abilities.
DURATION: 1 minute/level
You create a shadowy conduit between you and the powers of dark creatures of the abyss.
The bonuses granted by your Abyssal Heritor feats, and every class feature that depends on the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have, are calculated as if you had an additional number of them equal to half your caster level.
Note that in the case of the Chaotic Spell Recall feat, to avoid loopholes, the extra spell recalls gained by the menas of Goju's Embrace can't be used to cast Goju's Embrace again.
Additionally, you gain Fast Healing 1 in shadowy areas, and your Darkvision (if you have it) can now pierce magical darkness.
6 - Shroud of The Shadow Dragon: Unleash the ultimate power of shadow.
Shroud of The Shadow Dragon
RANGE: Touch or Personal
TARGET: One creature touched or You
SAVE: Will negates, See text
You can unleash the power of the mythical Shadow Dragon. You can use it to condemn your foes to live in a form of shadow or to disappear completely when the secrets you carry or your own life are in extreme danger.
If the touched creature fails the save it permanently becomes a Shadow Elemental of its size and will never harm (nor help) the caster. Only Wish, Miracle or Shroud of the Shadow Dragon casted again by the same caster can restore it to its original form.
If the character uses this mystery on itself it has a special effect. He temporary stops to exist by "de-materializing" and becoming an indistinct part of the Shadow Plane. In this case, a Will save allows the effect, and the character fades to an indistinct shadow and then to nothing, reappearing in the same place after a chosen amount of time, from a minimum of 1 hour up to a number of days equal to her caster level. If the character fails the save, he will be permanently polymorphed (see the polymorph subschool description) into a Shadow Elemental of its size. In this case, only Wish, Miracle or Shroud of the Shadow Dragon casted by another Shadow Demon may restore the caster's original form.
The Black Code: Those who enter the order of the Shadow Nefarites already knowing the ways of shadow magic must learn at least one mystery every two levels from the Shadow Nefarite list below (table 3, above).
Those who don't respect this rule instantly become Ex Shadow Nefarites (see below).
Abyssal Ways: Shadow nefarites develop a strong link with the abyssal plane and mysterious shadow entities that dwell there. This link gifts the character with different powers depending on what previous training or trainings he/she had.
If the character qualifies for more than one Abyssal Way, he must choose which way to follow at first (to determine if he/she gets Sneak Attack, Sudden Strike or other class features in place of them) but may choose a different benefit at 5th and 10th level (a benefit from a different "way").
Very defensive, with empowered Ki dodge, and extra spellcasting.
Twilight: Your levels in shadow nefarite stack with your ninja levels for the purpose of calculating your total amount of level-based Ki points, and the level you get new usages for your Ghost Step class feature.
From now on you get Sudden Strike.
Darkness: You gain the Ki Dodge class feature as a ninja of 6th level, but the amount of miss chance is equal to 10% for every Abyssal Heritor feat you have.
Shadow: You can now use your Ki points to gain extra uses of mysteries, expending 1 Ki point for every level of the mystery you want to use beyond daily limits. For example, you could spend 3 Ki points to gain 3 new uses for a 1st level mystery or 1 new use for a 3rd level mystery. Note that you can use this technique only to recover mysteries exclusive to this class, not mysteries from other shadowcaster's paths, for example.
The number of Ki points you can expend, and so the maximum level mystery you can reuse is equal to your Charisma modifier.
Focus on special attacks, with empowered Quivering Palm as final ability.
Twilight: Your levels in shadow nefarite stack with your monk levels for the purpose of determining your unarmored speed bonus, Ki Strike class feature, and the number of daily attempts of your Stunning Fist feat. Note that instead of eventually gaining Ki Strike (lawful), at the appropriate level you gain a special Ki Strike (chaotic) feature.
From now on you get Sudden Strike.
Darkness: You gain the Slow Fall class feature, but the distance you can fall without taking damage is equal to 20 ft. for every Abyssal Heritor feat you have. You also add ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have as a profane bonus to your Stunning Fist DC.
Shadow: You gain the Quivering Palm class feature as a monk of 15th level, with the exception that you use your Charisma modifier, may use it a number of times per week equal to your Charisma modifier, and your shadow nefarite levels stack with the monk ones in order to calculate the DC. You also add ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have as a profane bonus to your Quivering Palm DC.
Focus on Skill Tricks, progression of Uncanny Dodge, and extra goodies for true rogues.
Twilight: Your levels in shadow nefarite count as rogue levels for the purpose of gaining or advancing the benefits of the Uncanny Dodge class feature.
From now on you get Sneak Attack.
Darkness: You acquire a number of Skill Tricks equal to ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have, and each day you can select different ones, but you must always meet the requirements of every Skill Trick you learn. You also gain an extra +1d6 of Sneak Attack or, optionally, a rogue's Special Ability if you have rogue levels.
Shadow: You gain extra usages per encounter for your skill tricks equal to your Charisma modifier. You can use all your extra usages on one trick or distribute them between more tricks freely. You also gain an extra +1d6 of Sneak Attack or, optionally, a rogue's Special Ability if you have rogue levels.
Mixes swordsage and warblade features and allows multiple stances as a peak ability.
Twilight: Your add your full shadow nefarite level to your initiator level to determine your total initiator level and your highest-level maneuvers known.
Instead of Sneak Attack or Sudden Strike you gain one extra maneuver readied, and two new maneuvers known or one new stance known, alternatively (look at Table 4 below for sample progession).
Darkness: You gain both the Insightful Strike and Battle Ardor class features but instead of adding Wisdom or Intelligence modifier, you add the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Shadow: You can benefit from multiple Shadow Hand stances at the same time for a limited number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier, and for a fixed number of rounds each time equal to ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have. The number of simultaneous stances is equal to ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Mixes psionics with shadowcasting, and reaches high prowess in the end.
Twilight: Your shadow nefarite levels stack with your lurk levels for the purpose of determining Lurk Augment usage and selection.
Instead of Sneak Attack or Sudden Strike, you gain Psionic Talent as a bonus feat.
Darkness: You can cast your mysteries beyond their daily limits by expending a number of power points equal to the standard cost of a psionic power of a level one higher than the mystery's level. Mysteries casted in this fashion always count as supernatural abilities.
Shadow: A number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier, you can use a number of Augments at once equal to ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Transforms previous spellcasting and specializes in distracting enemies and general versatility.
Twilight: Your shadow nefarite levels stack with your bard levels for the purpose of determining your bardic music daily attempts.
Instead of Sneak Attack or Sudden Strike, you gain an additional +1 level of shadowcaster by sacrificing two levels of arcane spellcasting given by the bard class.
You are also able to select shadowcaster mysteries in lieu of shadow nefarite mysteries, and you cast all mysteries as a shadowcaster (using Intelligence instead of Wisdom), but must follow the rules of the Black Code while doing so.
If at one moment you gain this feature but don't have two bard spellcasting levels left, you don't gain the benefit until you gain a sufficient bard level.
Darkness: You can use Chord of Distraction for for free a number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier. Additionally, you can designate yourself in place of an ally as the beneficiary of the effect, the target will remain flat-footed for a number of rounds equal to ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have, and you gain a profane bonus to your Perform check equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
You also gain a free bonus feat.
Shadow: You become a master of the Kuji-Kiri fundamental. You concentrate on it with a move action, you gain a profane bonus on its save DC equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have, you can target a number of enemies equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have, and you can use it as a sonic effect, not depending on line of sight, and usable in conjunction with the Subsonics feat.
You also gain a free bonus feat.
ABYSSAL WAYS FOR CUSTOM CLASSES
Focus on damage, tracking of prey and extra spellcasting on slaying.
Twilight: Instead of Sneak Attack or Sudden Strike, you gain an additional +1d6 to your Mark (Cut Once) class feature.
Darkness: You gain the Greater Path of the Samurai (Wind) class feature with the exception that you gain blindsense equal to 10 ft. for every Abyssal Heritor feat you have. You also gain Track as a bonus feat.
Shadow: You gain the Mark (Pass Through) class feature with the difference that the immediate movement is equal to 5 ft. for every Abyssal Heritor feat you have.
A number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier, during the immediate movement, you can also cast a mystery during the same action and beyond daily limits, but the mystery's level must not be greater than ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Complete focus on ranged attacks. Empowered cloaking/camouflage as capstone.
Twilight: Your levels in shadow nefarite count as rogue levels for the purpose of gaining or advancing the benefits of the Uncanny Dodge class feature.
Instead of Sneak Attack or Sudden Strike, you gain an additional +1 dodge bonus to your AC.
Darkness: You gain Improved Combat Style (critical hits) and Shadow Mastery, both with the exception of being applicable to all light weapons with range increment, but only to them. This overrides the restriction to Shadow Hand weapons of the Shadow Mastery class feature.
Plus, instead of adding +1d6 damage with your Shadow Mastery, you add damage equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Note that your shadow nefarite levels count as initiator levels for the purpose of learning the new Shadow Hand stance given by the Combat Style class feature.
Shadow: You gain the Throw Dagger (Swift) class feature. A number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier, you can also cast a mystery during the same action, and imbue the throwing weapon with it, but the mystery's level must not be greater than ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
You also improve your Cloaking class feature, gaining camouflage in every area and with a distance from features equal to 5ft. for every two Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Transforms previous spellcasting and gain empowered vision or SR. Surprise capstone.
Twilight: If you have the Implement Focus or Implement Extension feats, you can use them as Metashadow feats, once per day, on your mysteries.
Instead of Sneak Attack or Sudden Strike, you gain an additional +1 level of shadowcaster by sacrificing two levels of arcane spellcasting given by the Engetsu shinobi class.
You are also able to select shadowcaster mysteries in lieu of shadow nefarite mysteries, and you cast all mysteries as a shadowcaster (using Intelligence instead of Wisdom), but must follow the rules of the Black Code while doing so.
If at one moment you gain this feature but don't have two Engetsu shinobi spellcasting levels left, you don't gain the benefit until you gain a sufficient Engetsu Shinobi level.
Darkness: You gain the Lunar Vision feat with the exception of having darkvision equal to 10 ft. + 10 ft. for every Abyssal Heritor feats you have, or you gain the Lunar Mantle feat with the exception of having your shadow nefarite levels stack with Engetsu shinobi levels, and an extra profane bonus to the resulting SR equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Shadow: You gain the Lunar Sight feat with the exception of having blindsight (instead of blindsense) equal to 5 ft. for every Abyssal Heritor feats you have, or you gain the Lunar Mantle, Penultimate feat with the exception of having your shadow nefarite levels stack with Engetsu shinobi levels, using your Charisma modifier instead of Intelligence modifier, and an extra profane bonus to the resulting SR equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
You also gain the Ki Clout feat as a bonus feat and may treat your unarmed strikes as made of Shadowstriking metal for a limited number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier, and for a fixed number of rounds each time equal to ½ the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
Shadow Demon Skin (Su):
Table 4: Martial Way: example of typical maneuvers progression.
lv Maneuvers Known Maneuvers Readied Stances Known
1st 2 1 0
2nd 0 0 0
3rd 0 0 0
4th 1 1 1
5th 0 0 0
6th 0 0 0
7th 2 1 0
8th 0 0 0
9th 0 0 0
10th 1 1 1
The Shadow Demon Skin is identical to the Shadow Skin mystery but is cast with a bonus on your caster level equal to the number of Abyssal Heritor feats you have and replaces Silver with Cold Iron, since the nature of this power is tied to the Abyss. The shadow nefarite can use it as a supernatural ability 1 time per day, expending the use of one Apprentice mystery.
At 8th level the Shadow Demon may use it 3 times per day, always expending the use of any one Apprentice mystery each time.
Starting from 5th level, this ability can be recovered by the means of the Chaotic Spell Recall feat, as all the other mysteries from the shadow nefarite list.
Additionally, a shadow nefarite who reaches the Stalker's Way to Shadow is able to get an extra use for this mystery expending 2 Ki points, and a shadow nefarite who reaches the Lurk's Way to Darkness is able to get an extra use for it expending 5 power points.Chaotic Spell Recall:
At 5th level, all your mysteries and fundamentals from the shadow nefarite list gain the Chaotic descriptor and are recoverable by the means of the Chaotic Spell Recall feat (see Fiendish Codex I) that you gain even if you don't meet the prerequisites.Shadows and Air (Su):
The ever-growing chaotic and shadowy presence in your soul has now extended to your body. Your movements become supernaturally fluid and unpredictable, and you almost seem to flicker just a moment before being hit, dodging even apparently sure hits.
From now on, you always add your Charisma modifier as a bonus to your AC.
Being this a supernatural effect, it doesn't function in areas where magic is not possible such as an antimagic field
.Abyssal Heritor Feat:
You gain an Abyssal Heritor feat (see "Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss") that can be randomly determined to add some chaotic flavor to the character or optionally chosen normally.EX Shadow Nefarites
A shadow nefarite who breaks the Black Code, becomes of prohibited alignment or breaks whatever extra rule his sect might have (maybe just by failing a mission given by the grand master of the sect) cannot take any other level in the prestige class and looses all the benefits derived from Silent Soul, Shadows and Air and the use of the Shadow Demon Skin mystery/class feature. The only way to regain the power is by defeating the grand master of his sect.
"Our sect has grown strong, but we payed a price for it: there are few of us now like me, who can be seen by normal people without provoking a visceral horror."
- Jhunal Na-taki "Red Moon", a shadow nefarite in her everyday outfit.
New Abyssal Heritor feats
Glowing markings of demonic symbols appear on your body, augmenting your power at a painful cost.
Prerequisite: Any three other Abyssal Heritor feats
Benefit: You add a +1 profane bonus to your Charisma score for every two Abyssal Heritor feats you possess.
Special: You suffer a permanent drain of 2 points of Constitution.
GRASP OF THE GLABREZU
Your nearly demonic hands give you strength and a powerful grasp, allowing you to wield large weapons, but making it more difficult to wield smaller ones.
Prerequisite: Claws of the Beast
Benefit: You reduce the measure of the effort it takes to wield an oversized weapon by one step. The penalty for using bigger weapons decreases by 1 for every four Abyssal Heritor feats you possess, but the penalty can never be a negative value (you will never gain a bonus for wielding oversized weapons).
Special: You suffer a permanent -2 penalty on attack rolls made with all light and ranged weapons.
Prerequisite: Snowflake Wardance, Perform (Kuji-Kiri) 12 ranks, Artist's Ways (Darkness) class feature.
Benefit: When initiating a Snowflake Wardance, you can instead choose to initiate an Alluring Bladewhirl expending one additional bardic music use.
The effect is the same of a Snowflake Wardance, but you gain 1d6 of Sudden Strike, plus an additional +1d6 for every 4 Abyssal Heritor feats you have.
The duration of the Alluring Bladewhirl is equal to your Perform (Kuji-Kiri) ranks, instead of Perform (dance) ranks.
PLAYING A SHADOW NEFARITE
You have delved deep into "forbidden" lores and finally discovered what are arguably the most efficient powers to be stealthy, difficult to hit in combat and generally very difficult to stop from your intents.
You are a loner and at the same time you depend from a sect and especially from its grand master, the person that gave you the possibility to access all these new powers.
Depending on the nature of your sect, and on the nature of yourself, you could have nearly no interaction with the sect, a very easy and good relationship or a dangerous and painful life with it.
All in all, you are a person who has, explicitly or implicitly, a strong thirst of power. And even more than that, a predilection for easy ways to get this power. Chances are that you are a charismatic and smart person, one who could have a bright and easy future, but some bad experiences or delusions in your life made you think that "the outside world", society, politics, law and order are just against you. Even magical studies were just too boringly legislated for your likings. Then, by traveling around or by studying alone, you discovered (or you were discovered by) a shadow nefarite master and your life changed.
Now you can do what you want... Or maybe what your master or some hidden and dark part of your soul wants, but chances are that you will never know it. Or that you will discover the truth when it will be a little late to change it.
You combine very subtle powers with fast and deadly attacks. You could run parallel to a line-up of shooting archers without being hit or you could receive a deadly blow just to let your foe breathless when he discovers that the weapon didn't even scar your skin. You excel at dealing with single opponents, but if you get surrounded, you would better try to run away or do hara-kiri if the secrets you carry would bring you more pain than death, if discovered.
At higher levels, you have the power to let your foes think that you're dead, by letting them kill the perfect decoy that the double of yourself created by the Shadow Brother mystery is, or if you have a monastic and shadowcasting training, you could just slay everyone with the claws that you probably had grown by the means of your abyssal heritage, having them enhanced by the fearful Edge of Nothing mystery and helped by the dark powers of the Goju's Embrace mystery.
If you will become a true master among shadow nefarites, you could eventually learn the ultimate mystery: the Shroud of the Shadow Dragon. With it you could easily kill even powerful foes, if you manage to use it in conjunction with the Silent Soul class feature, or you can really and completely disappear, giving you a happier alternative to suicide in the worst situations...
Your options in combat are just as many as the damned souls that inhabit the foul plane that gives you some of your powers.
If you had levels in the monk, shadow warrior, shadowcaster or more than one of these classes, you should consider taking some levels into them during your advacement, since you would probably rely on some of their class features and/or superior spellcasting ability.
Being a shadow nefarite means also confronting with the need of more and more abyssal heritor feats, to take advantage and use at best the two free ones that the clas gives you. This is especially so if you were a shadow warrior
or shadowcaster and at high levels learn the Goju's Embrace mystery. With it you can double the effectiveness of your Abyssal Heritor feats and this would probably mean better combat prowess and who know how much else.
Other feats that you must consider if you also have access to other shadow magic paths are the few Reserve feats (see "Complete Mage") for which you could qualify, especially those that enhance movement like Borne Aloft or Dimensional Jaunt.
One Reserve feat that you may and should really take even without having more shadowcasting ability is the Face-Changer feat, available since you take the Shadow Brother mystery (which is both a shadow illusion since it creates something that is nearly real and a glamer illusion needed to qualify for the feat since it makes the shadow look like a vivid and real copy of yourself).
With the Face-Changer feat you can avoid other people seeing your probably evident demonic features.
Other always helpful feats may be Metashadow feats, other feats presented in the Shadow Magic chapter of Tome of Magic like the ones that let you avoid attacks of opportunity while casting a mystery, and finally some combat-oriented feat, like Improved Critical which stacks with the bonus granted by Edge of Nothing.
Also consider that if at a certain point you find that you need more shadow magic prowess, you can always take a level of shadowcaster after entering the shadow nefarite class and the only changes you will undergo will be that you will now have to follow the "Black Code" and that if you had already reached 4th level, so gaining the "Chaotic Transformation" class feature, only the mysteries that you learned before gaining the shadowcaster level will qualify for the use of Chaotic Spell Recall. Apart from that, the change will be good since you will start your shadowcaster career already knowing some shadowcasting and your levels in shadowcaster and shadow nefarite will stack for the purpose of determining caster level and mystery learning. Of course the previous mysteries won't count for the purpose of determining Bonus Feats.
Speaking of advancement in your "career", consider at a certain point that if your grand master becomes an obstacle, you can always defeat him and maybe take his place or definitely become a real lone wolf or maybe even create your own sect.
Even if your sect could represent a resource in the case of an organized sect, there are also many sects which don't represent a true resource to its adepts, and these sects are the ones that permit the higher degree of autonomy. So a resourceful sect is also a demanding sect.
However, the nature of shadow nefarites makes them resourceful of their own, so apart from some good magic item you may want in order to make your life and fights easier, you don't need much at all.
For evil shadow nefarites, a good resource may be what many would consider an immense threat: the demons themselves. Taking a feat like Evil Brand could make you look at least like a possible and temporary ally to the eyes of some demons. In this case, being friend to (or kidnapping) someone that deals with planar bindings or portals could help you in your foul quests...
SHADOW NEFARITES IN THE WORLD
"Shadows and chaos can be the best tools to fight injustice. But these great powers should never be used for one's greed, or they will take even the purest souls to dark paths."
- Katahshken "White Lotus": master of the Cloaked Stargazers, on his way to voluntary poverty.
The shadow nefarites could represent the biggest threat to society as well as the last standing against evil, depending on the type of sects that are introduced to the campaign world.
An epic conclave of spellcasting-focused shadow nefarites could very well and ironically be the "shadow government" of a metropolis, while individual and not organized shadow nefarites could represent mysterious and evil villains as well as unseen protectors.
The connection between the abyss and the shadow plane could be a secret that the most powerful shadow nefarites keep for themselves, and the fate of the world could depend on the knowledge of that secret. In this case, life could be difficult for shadow nefarites, because many powers would like to defeat them to unlock their forbidden lore.
All in all, the importance, position, and situation of the shadow nefarites in a campaign world could vary like individual shadow nefarites do.
As it is clear to shadow nefarites themselves, the term "shadow nefarite" is just a generalization that groups together not only different type of warriors and rogues, but also different types of sects, some of them very focused and composed by more or less the same type of members, much like monasteries, others more varied, with complex hierarchies and very independent components. This facts make the organization of shadow nefarites only a matter of choice for the Game Master. The whole idea of organization could be thrashed for a different concept, maybe tied to physical demonic influences or true bloodline heritages.
Just remember that even if shadow nefarites are much more chaotic than lawful, some particular and not so hard combinations could make for solid lawful shadow nefarites. The management and interactions of these two "factions" are left to your imagination.
Seeing a shadow nefarite is very difficult. But even more difficult is to remain calm and cold-blooded if you manage to see one. Simple folk may even believe that they are true demons, while experienced adventurers could just be puzzled by their strange cocktail of abilities and maybe make bad mistakes when trying to confront with them.
Nevertheless, a disguised or just not-on-duty shadow nefarite could appear as a normal person. It depends much on what kind of (and how many) Abyssal Heritor feat he/she acquired. The ones with wings will obviously have a much harder time trying to pass for something "normal" than their "cousins" with just some hallucinatory visions in their minds.
SHADOW NEFARITES LORE
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can discover the presence of shadow nefarites in a given region or city, but only charcaters with Knowledge (the plans) can understand the secrets beneath the surface.
DC 10: The biggest robberies or more impressive murders of the area are said to be made by "shadow demons" of sorts.
DC 15: Some say that these "shadow demons" are not demons, but humans with demon blood or who made pacts with abyssal powers in order to become powerful like them.
DC 20: These eerie criminals seem to act without clear schemes and seem to make use of a particular form of magic named shadow magic.
DC 25: The name with which these mysterious rogues are known to the most informed authorities is "shadow nefarites", but who they really are and where do they hide is never known for sure.
DC 30: The shadow nefarites work alone but are organized into secret sects that disguise themselves as monasteries, guilds or schools of magic. Sometimes a sect of shadow nefarite is just hidden into a normal organization. What they always need is access to ancient tomes about the abyss and the plane of shadows.
Knowledge (the planes)
DC 15: The plane of shadow is the source of shadow magic and is also connected to many other planes.
DC 20: It i said that some strong connection exists somewhere between the plane of shadow and the abyss.
DC 25: Some evil and secretive shadowcasters (masters of shadow magic) discovered ways to enhance their magic by letting their bodies and souls be influenced by abyssal energies. Someone calls them "shadow nefarites".
DC 30: Even if shadow nefarites deal with the powers of the abyss, this fact doesn't alone make them evil, but much more than so makes them chaotic. There is no reason to think that the magic of shadow nefarites is evil in nature, but for sure it may be chaotic.
SHADOW NEFARITES IN THE GAME
Due to their nature, Shadow Nefarites can be easily introduced to any campaign world. They best fit into big cities with some inter-cultural exchanges and some schools of magic.
Shadow magic will be inevitable for the introduction of shadow nefarites, but it would not be a bad idea to make them the first pioneers of this magic.
Making their sect hidden into already consolidated shadow magic schools is equally simple and valid.
All the PCs in the party with the right roguish abilties could be attracted by the class powers, and even more fighter-oriented characters could benefit from its special abilities and magic, so the party, or part of it, could very easily become involved into the strange plots of some shadow nefarite sect, or maybe just become autodidact shadow nefarite, without giving much importance to the sources of their power or to other implications.
This prestige class started out as a conversion of a ninja prestige class taken by the "Way of the Ninja" book, which was tied to the Legend of the 5 Rings and consequently to the Rokugan campaign setting. The oriental feeling can still be felt by looking at the names of the mysteries or at the name of some class features. Changing these names could already represent amore solid adaption to a classic gaming world, while making this class a peculiarity of a distant oriental land such as Kara-Tur in the Forgotten Realms setting could explain its strangeness and aliment the interest towards it.
In the Eberron world they could just be a new and wary sect born in Sharn itself, maybe around the Morgrave University entourage, or they could be an ancient group tied to the Lords of Dust, their power coming from the great imprisoned rakshasa rajas.
Other adaption options could very well be focusing the requirements, by making the class more specific or on the other hand adding even more "Ways", such as one especially for bards (not a bad idea), one for scouts, one for lurks, one for rangers and so on. So you can cut away Ways in order to make the class simpler, add other Ways to make it even more flexible or just replace them with others to change the feeling. For example, the urban feeling could be easily changed to a more savage feeling by thinking out a Way of the Rager (for barbarians), a Way of the Skirmisher (for scouts) and a Way of the Hunter (for rangers) and replacing the original ways with the new ones.
You could even convert the mysteries to spells (they are already spells converted to mysteries, so the process is easy) and give the class a more conventional feeling, with spells known and spell-slots tables.
A Shadow Nefarite can well be a central character of a storyline: a mysterious and elusive figure that may endanger or help the party depending on the situation.
The PCs may want to befriend this dark warrior in order to be initiated to the secrets of his magic or they may want to capture him just because of the bounty on his head.EL 18:
Katahshken is a living example of how the powers of shadow and of the abyss may change a life forever. but not necessarily in a bad way, at all.
He was once one of the most respected w
Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 3:12 PM
So two weeks since the formation of the Zendikar - D&D Campaign Setting group and 20 members today! I figured I could make a sort of status report with notes and just about anything useful for members and visiting people alike.
Basic intro: Zendikar is a "block" (or cycle) of Magic The Gathering trading cards, but it's also the name of the setting (an entire plane actually, but it's more like a planet/world) in which the lands, creatures, characters and spells presented in the cards all reside. It's a very fantastic world, clearly inspired by the latest fantasy trends I would say, and borrowing from D&D more than a Magic setting ever did in the past. It's a world of adventure and a true Points of Light setting in practically every sense, as I pointed out in the first blog of the group: Zendikar and the core D&D World assumptions. In the second blog (An Elemental Realm?) I also talked about the possibility of considering Zendikar an Elemental Realm, in the 4e sense of the term. Short answer: better not to, but you can.
I decided to use the forum for now for all the content of the group, so before someone with some wiki skills decides to make a wiki out of it (I pass...), here's an index of what's already online:
- Zendikar - Guide & Intro (with images and full list of official material)
Verbose title, I guess I should change it.
Here's the comprehensive list of all the material released by Wizards about Zendikar not dealing with the game of Magic itself. Most of it would find place in a campaign setting book, so here's the base of it all. After the links you can find a summarized version of the main "document", which is "A Planeswalker's Guide To Zendikar (Introduction)". So you'll find all the regions with brief descriptions and a list of the names of all the locations found in each one, which I put to start familiarizing with the names. Note that each region name is a link to the relative section of the official guide! Same is true for races.
Only part I really did myself is about the so called "Expeditions", which are location of interest for adventuring, detailed in the second post.
- Digging For Flavor: "Hedrons" (with images)
I continue to specify "with images", because you should really see those images... Zendikar's artwork is literally awe-inspiring, as you can see by the few images I included here.
In the "Digging For Flavor" series, I present the results of a search for flavor text inside the cards, by the means of a nifty search engine. So here you find all the flavor text concerning expeditions. At the end of the post I draw some conclusions about the subject.
- Digging For Flavor: "Expeditions" (with images)
Same format of before, but here I deal with the "Hedrons", which are the stone "diamonds" that float in the skies or sometimes lie hidden in the land of Zendikar. They are magical devices obviously, but even if their purpose is more less known (to us, not to the inhabitants of Zendikar!), they are meant to be an enigma, and they manage to do it quite well. they're wonderful plot devices, other than... "prop devices"?
- Zendikar Campaigns: what direction would you take it?
This is the first thread in which there's actually some discussion! The title is self-explanatory, and the conclusions are good, although the subject is open of course, and it's one of the most important ones, since one could the say the material is already all in place, so we're all a good idea and some inspiration away from actually playing D&D in the Zendikar worl
- Native, Outsider, and Unknown races
The sticky thread of the Races forum, here I just list all the 4e races and classify them in order to show which one already fits Zendikar, which could fit easily, and which are hardly good choices.
- Guul Draaz Vampires
First playable race that I devised. Yes, vampires are a major race in Zendikar, and they needed a racial write-up even if their "niche" is more or less that of Tieflings in the standard D&D world. There have been no comments or critics as of now. Needless to say, they would be needed! Also note that this race, as all the Zendikar race I will write, includes some peculiarity not found in most standard races. These vampires for example receive different ability bonuses, skill bonuses and a minor feature depending on their bloodline. The alternative would be to open their ability bonuses even more and make them a +X/+Y and +Z/+K... Don't hesitate to comment on the matter!
Another major Zendiakr race, the Merfolk are my latest adaption. Their niche is similar to that of Eladrin in that their the magic-heavy race of Zendikar. Also note that they're perfectly adapted to life outside water, and as many races in Zendikar, they're even quite airborne! The peculiarity of this race is the racial power which does different things depending on your power source, and of course if you have more than one power source, you get to choose the effect each time!
- [Experimental] Kor racial power: "Skyhooking"!
For the third major race, the Kor, I first wanted some feedback on what is basically an at-will flying racial power... Based on their mastery of grapnel hooks and ropes! The Kor are the most aerial race of an aerial world, and in Zendikar, most locales have some good verticality, meaning that flying is pretty much needed, but of course it should also be a little limited, and here comes the designing challenge that this power represents.
- Eberron Races: Warforged as "Worldforged"?? Eldrazi-Kalashtar??
Here I basically amuse myself with cool options to include these two races in Zendikar. There's a bit of a surprise at the end in the form of an update of the post, since I discovered only recently that the designers of Zendikar had asked themselves similar questions on the relationship of gods and angels with the entities that seem to have spawned the legends of the gods in a first place... You'll see, scary stuff!
- Adapted Zendikar Monsters
I already made a few monsters inspired by the Zendikar cards, with "translated" mechanics which sometimes result in innovative design choices... Here they are:
- Felidar Sovereign - A might "leader" beast, true king of animals
- Æther Figment - Basically a living spell, this is an experimental monster: it's a minion that can turn into a standard!
- [Eldrazi] Dread Drone - This was really fun to make, and I guess all the subsequent Eldrazi (which are basically Far Realm entities) will be just as interesting. it's another experiment, this time it's a high level minion that counts as a standard from the start...
- Loam Lion - Last but not least, a basic animal. No, we don't have things such as "basic" animals in Zendikar: even this simple cat is a challenging adversary for a 3rd level threat. Two-words hint: defensive skirmisher...
So here's the content which is already in, time to comment it, critique it, and put some new! Also notice that the General Discussion forums "About Zendikar" and "Free For All" are there for you to chat and discuss, and that every forum in the group is also open to non members!
Monday, September 13, 2010, 10:47 AM
This is a collection of all the setting-related material for Zendikar. There's obviously much more visual than textual material, but it also has sufficient lore to make for a wonderful D&D campaign setting, which is the reason for which i started the project.
A Planeswalker's Guide To Zendikar (Introduction) (Ruins of a lost civilization, The Roil, Exploring the wilds, The world of Zendikar, Races of Zendikar)
The Look Of Zendikar (Mainly visuals, D&D is cited as a source)
Zendikar, The Lethal Landscape (Concepts and visuals)
Deadly Perils, Priceless Treasures (Mainly visuals)
The Secrets Of Zendikar (Mainly visuals)
The Look Of An Awakening World (Visuals of "worldwake Zendikar")
Worldwake, A Plane In Revolt (more on "worldwake Zendikar")
Ally Cuisine ("Allies": adventurers, famous characters)
Angry Lands, Brave Adventurers (More on lands, more on adventurers, vampires)
The Moment Of Discovery ("Getting there is a large percentage of the fun")
The Season For Costumes (Outfits and gear of Zendikarian adventurers)
The Eldrazi Arisen (On the Eldrazi, aberrant near-gods trapped inside Zendikar)
Writing The Eldrazi (Good for visuals)
[Comic] Journey To The Eye (1st part of the Zendikar series - Akoum: Affa, Spike Fields, League of Anowon, Akoum Hedron Field)
[Comic] Awakenings (2nd part of the Zendikar series - Teeth of Akoum, Eye of Ugin)
[Comic] Enter The Eldrazi (3rd part of the Zendikar series - Eye of Ugin, Halimar: Seagate)
GEOGRAPHY (only named geographycal elements in parentheses, more inside the articles. Quoted text from intro.)
Click the region names to go to their specific guides.
- Akoum (Teeth of Akoum, Leage of Anowon, Affa, The Goma Fada Caravan, Tal Terig, Ora Onda, The Khlani Stone, Igneous Glens, Waterscouts, Glasspool, Ior)
"Akoum is a mountainous continent where magma glows from crevasses in the earth. Crystalline fields shimmer beneath the sun, but the sharp edges of most surfaces will slice through skin and bone. In some areas, the temperatures are extreme—burning an explorer's skin during the day and causing frostbite during the night. Gases occasionally spew from the ground, and around these vents, bizarre trees and plant life have arisen in pockets of weird biome. The region is plagued by geological instability, causing magma geysers to erupt unexpectedly and shards of rock to rain down unexpectedly."
- Bala Ged [sub-continent of Guul Draz] (Guum Wilds, Surrakar Caves, Bujuka Bay, Umung River, The Tangled Vales, Bloodbriar, Cut Fungus, ELVES )
"Humid rainforests cover this low-lying continent. A humid haze blankets the landscape, which is riddled with poisonous molds, fungi, and strangely colored algae. Deep within the network of limestone caves and tunnels, catacombs, sacrificial altars, and rune-inscribed chambers hide countless treasures. These are the domain of the ferocious, reptilian Surrakar and countless primordial monsters. Bala Ged is home to two tribes of elves: the warlike Joraga tribe as well as the secretive Mul Daya. Mul Daya elves can be recognized by their tattooing, and have a connection with the spirits of their elvish ancestors that sets them apart from the rest of the elves."
- Guul Draz (Malakir, The Free City Of Nimana, Pelakka Karst, The Hanging Swamp, VAMPIRES)
"This is a humid region of teeming lagoons, and tangled, fetid swamps—this is the homeland of the vampires. Predators stalk the wilds, and traps are hidden in mangrove jungles and around settlements. The rancid waterways that twist into the vast marshes and swamps conceal predators and plagues. There are more ruin sites here than elsewhere, including the Hagra Cistern, a huge complex of ruins that's gradually sinking into the muck and water."
- Murasa (Sunder Bay, Cliffs of Kazuul, Thunder Gap, Glint Pass, Skyfang Mountains, Shatterskull Pass, Na Plateau, Singing City, Vazi River, Pillar Plains, Visimal The Hidden City, The Cipher In Flames, Raimunza Hive, Kazandu)
"Surrounded by towering cliffs, Murasa is a continent of jaddi-tree forests, deep valleys, and steep ridges. Vines and other vegetation wind through deep valleys, up cliff walls, and down into dank, half-lit caverns in the earth. The Kazuul Road provides the easiest access into Murasa. But Kazuul, an ogre slavemaster, controls the route and demands tribute from any explorer who tries to enter the continent."
- Tazeem (Emeria The Sky Ruin, Pathway Stones, Halimar The Inland Sea, The Lighthouse At Seagate, Oran-Rief Forest, Pit Caves, Umara River Gorge, Magosi Waterfall And Portage, MERFOLK)
"Tazeem is a perilous combination of the Oran-Rief, a gigantic, twisted forest; Halimar, a deep inland sea; and the Umara, and a great rushing river that bisects the continent. Some ancient ruins have been co-opted by denizens, who make their homes in the remains of the massive hedrons. Other ruins remain hidden underground, but are sought after by both merfolk loremasters and power-hungry expeditionary leaders.
Colossal hedrons float in the sky above Tazeem. This rubble field stretches across the entire continent, obscuring direct sunlight and blocking natural rainfall patterns. The massive stones perpetually turn and tumble across the heavens. Amid the ruins, there are the shattered remains of a sky-castle. Merfolk call this Emeria, the Sky Ruin. They believe it was once the home of Emeria, the goddess of the sky."
- Ondu (Islands Of Ondu, Turntimber The Serpentine Forest, Greypelt, The Makind Trenches, Teetering Peaks, Prison Of Omnath, Binding Circle, Soul Stair, Jwar Isle Of Secrets, Fadun, Strand Of Jwar, Beyeen The Crown Of Talib, "Piston" Mountains, Zulaport, The Boilbasin, Hedron Fields of Agadeem, Kabira, The Crypt Of Agadeem)
"The geography of Ondu is dominated by a sense of sweeping verticality. The precarious Makindi Trenches, the skyscraping trees of the Turntimber, and the depths of the Crypt of Agadeem all contribute to the strange sensation that travel in Ondu occurs up and down rather than east and west. Jwar, the Isle of Secrets lies near the southern coast. Huge granite heads loom half-buried in the earth, and a beam of pure blue light can be seen shooting straight up out of the island. But no explorer has yet uncovered the source of the light."
Also about Ondu: The Journal Of Javad Nasrin
- Sejiri (Midnight Pass, The Tundra Perilous, Ikiral, Benthidrix)
"This polar region is like an enormous mesa with permafrost steppes, wind-blasted mountains, and impossibly tall cliffs that encircle the continent. Despite its inhospitable terrain, creatures such as felidars, griffins, and sphinxes make their home in the snow-covered wastes. There are many ruins sites, and explorers brave the cold to see what treasures lie deep beneath the snowy surface."
RACES (Quoted text from Intro)
"Vampires live openly in Guul Draz and are famed for the decadence and perversion of their lifestyle. Bloodchiefs, the progenitors of their race, control the opulent city of Malakir. Vampire society is divided by "family" allegiances, each family beholden to its Bloodchief. Each family controls a small amount of territory and routes through the swamp, although the main currency of any family is in its connections and relationships. The tastes and passions of the Bloodchief tend to be imprinted on the vampires he or she creates.
There are five greater families in Guul Draz: Nirkana, Kalastria, Emevera, Urnaav, and Ghet. Dozens of other lesser families are scattered across Guul Draz, each with a contingent of undead nulls appropriate to their place in vampire society. Whenever a vampire fully drains the blood of a living creature without destroying the husk, a vampire null is created from the body. If nulls are left without orders, they will hunt and kill living things that they can find."
One could think that using the Dhampyr bloodline or using the Revenant race could be enough to represent Zendikar Vampires, but I think they need a full race write up. They need to have the following elements:
- Charisma is surely their specialty, with Dexterity comign as a close second. It is difficult to understand (from the various vampire creature cards) if the last ability bonus could be Constituition or Intelligence. They could be Con + Cha/Dex or Cha + Dex/Int or maybe even Con/Dex + Int/Cha, which could be a new standard for Zendikar races, or a specialty of Vampires to represent their varied origins or the differences between the bloodlines.
- A blood drain ability, which could be a power or a feature activating each time they bloody an enemy or each time they use Second Wind adjacent to bloodied enemies.
- Bonuses to "cultural" skills, like Hisotry and Arcana, and also to Acrobatics.
- Kor (The Ondu and the Master At Arms articles are the best sources)
"The kor live a spare and nomadic existence. They travel mercilessly light, carrying with them only the essentials, valuing the portability of individual skill and strength of character over more "static" virtues. "We were not meant to put down roots," they say. "The heart is a moving organ." Despite their constant motion, the kor revere locations in a deep sense. They travel in small bands along one of several pilgrimage routes, visiting dozens of sacred sites across Zendikar. Each pilgrimage circuit takes decades, and many are lost to Zendikar's dangers along the way
The kor are masters of ropes and hooks, using them to travel and to hunt, and incorporating them into their spirituality. They rarely use unreliable devices such as crossbows to propel their grappling hooks onto cliff faces or into flying game, relying instead on simple, sturdy rope and the skill of the arm. A hooked line is also a social and sacred symbol for the kor, representing their connection to each other and to the world around them."
The kor also need a race of their own. It would be a flavorful race, with a focus on movement, terrain and weaponry related features and powers.
- Bonuses to Dexterity and then probably Wisdom or Strength. They appear to be adept at divine magic and also good warriors, although their phisiques wouldn't seem strong. Instead of Strength, Constituition may also eb appropriate, not sure. For now I'd say the most likely would be Dex + Wis/Str.
- Proficiency with hooks and chains, probably setting and race-specific.
- Ability to ignore some kinds of difficult terrain.
- A power with various effects, depending on the weapon-tool they use. It would be nice to make it an at-will power.
- Bonuses to Athletics and Acrobatics.
"More merfolk live in Tazeem than elsewhere, but they can be found on every continent in Zendikar. Although the merfolk are born in the water, they have adapted to life on land. Curious, thoughtful, and analytical, the merfolk are natural explorers. Merfolk tend to be more solitary than other races and don't cultivate large communities. But even merfolk who spend most of their time exploring will establish a home base, a place they return to before setting out again.
Run by merfolk scholars, the Lighthouse at Sea Gate is the center of learning for explorers of all races. A library filled with scrolls, and maps, and writings about the lost civilization, this is a storehouse of all the collected knowledge about Zendikar."
Merfolk are another completely new race, and they should fill the niche of the magical/intellectual/spiritual race, without forgetting their agility.
- Wisdom and Intelligence are obvious. I'd say a Wis + Int/Dex is the most fitting, with Wis + Int/Cha coming second.
- Complete aquatic adaption.
- A racial power useful for ranged classes.
- Bonuses to Religion and Arcana.
"Goblins thrive in Akoum, Murasa, and Ondu as well as in most settlements and outposts. Although there are numerous tribes, the Tuktuk and Grotag tribes boast the largest warrens. Much of a goblin's life is devoted to finding and plundering ruin sites. The goblins choose their tribal leaders by their perceived industriousness. The goblin that leads is the one who has managed to retrieve the most interesting or powerful object from a ruin. In Affa, the main settlement in Akoum, many goblins hire themselves out as guides or trapfinders. Of course, the normal plan is to help find something of value, trigger a trap intentionally, steal the object, and run away."
Goblins are among the few that already have a racial write-up, but being it completely underdeveloped and thought for NPCs, they also need a nearly full remake.
- There's a considerable overlap with other races, because again Dexterity, Charisma and even Constitution seem the more appropriate.
- I don't know about the racial power, could leave the shift as minor action, or could make something skill-related.
- Bonuses to Thievery, Bluff and any other skill.
"Bala Ged is the homeland of the Joraga elves and the planeswalker Nissa Revane. The Joraga elves have little respect for any other race or even other elves. They see the survival of their nation as most important, and jealously guard their traditions. Many outsiders view their nomadic clans as roving bands of murderers, but there is a complex culture behind their aggressive exterior.
After splitting from the Joraga Nation, the Tajuru elves settled in Murasa and Tazeem. Large numbers of Joraga have made homes in the towering trees of the Oran-Rief forest, where they inhabit villages suspended from the treetops. The Tajuru are rumored to be the best guides in Zendikar. Using zip-lines and expert climbing techniques, the elves fearlessly span the gaps between branches or cliff faces."
Elves probably wouldn't need a write-up, racial feats would be enough.
QUESTS AND EXPEDITIONS (These can be viewed as fabled destinations, adventures to undertake)
- Khalni Heart Expedition (Akoum: Ora Onda, primal/green)
The effect in the MtG game was to draw land cards. It could mean discovering new places, new routes, or something more primal like having access to healing energy or good consumables. Plot-wise, it could mean finding a way to contrast threats to nature.
- Ior Ruin Expedition (Akoum: Glasspool, arcane/blue)
The effect of the card was to draw cards. It surely means something as gaining forgotten knowledge, usually arcane. Exploration-wise, it needs some kind of underwater adventuring, after having reached Glasspool. Plot-wise, there could be a race to obtain Ior's secrets, and the implications could be dangerous
- Soul Stair Expedition (Ondu, necromancy-shadow/black)
Picking cards from the graveyard can be very well interpreted as resurrecting dead beings or communicating with the dead. Plot-wise, the location could also be used for some really nasty necromancy ritual that the characters should try to stop, or some rituals could only be performed here and the characters would need to reach the place.
- Zektar Shrine Expedition (Akoum? Murasa? elemental/red)
It was an elemental summoning effect. It could be interpreted as a regional-scale weapon. Plot-wise, evil-doers controlling the Zektar Shrine could pose a threat to civilization, but there should be a limit to its use, it's not like it should have wide-spread political importance, maybe there's nothing to destroy in the vicinities, maybe the elemental is difficult to control once summoned.
- Sunspring Expedition (Murasa? divine-primal/white)
It provided healing, but it could be more than that, a place where the worst afflictions may be removed. Plot-wise, a character might need to be cured from a rare disease and thus need to be brought to the Sunspring.
MANA COLORS AND POWER SOURCES
One of the most obvious parallels between Magic and D&D, is between mana colors and power sources. They seem to be perfectly matched:
RED = ELEMENTAL
BLUE = ARCANE
BLACK = SHADOW
WHITE = DIVINE
GREEN = PRIMAL
However, this shouldn't be player characters-related as much as environment-related. After all, we don't have an Elemental power source for player characters (yet), and we have a Psionic power source, that doesn't completely fit any color (although Blue is close), but really fits Zendikar for the whole "answer to aberrant threat" theme, which is strong in Zendikar's Rise Of The Eldrazi.
Discussing within the community, it appears clear that Zendikar has a deep connection with the Elemental Chaos. So deep that it may in fact be treated as a particularly big Elemental Realm. In my opinion, it could have an inverted world axis, with Elemental and Astral being the closest planes and being somewhat parallel and easily accessible, while Feywild and Shadowfell could be more like far-flung dominions.
Another option would be to leave Feywild and Shadowfell as echo planes, but playing with Zendiakr's planar instability, making them not so much separate places as simple conditions that can affect Zendikar locally. Some places could "turn into" Feywild or Shadowfell.
Whatn should be the core of the Zendikar experience however is the mutability of the landscape, and for that, the influencable nature of the Elemental Chaos is the best option, although if interpreting Zendikar as a planet inside the Elemental Chaos, being indeed a planet and thus an enormous potion of stabilized chaos, it would be more difficult to influence it, requiring more than the skills of Heroic Tier characters.
The Astral Sea is another problematic place, after all. There are no true gods mentioned for Zendikar, since the gods that most venerate are just a memory of the Eldrazi distorted by the millennia. I'd say divine classes can exist, but they would receive power directly from the Astral Sea, without having to pray to a particular god.
The position of the Astral Sea in the cosmology is difficult if Zendikar is to be interpreted as an elemental realm. It could be a far place, or it could be exceptionally near, making Zendikar a world just between the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea.
Friday, September 10, 2010, 8:56 PM
It is something I had always thought about: Zendikar is one of the most marvellous fantasy worlds I've ever known about. Browsing through the Planeswalker's Guide To Zendikar is always great, the artwork is top-notch and awe-inspiring, and even if it's rather filled of cliches here and there, what kind of fun fantasy world isn't?
I thought that maybe some D&D players could not know about Zendikar (although I doubt that) and others would either don't like it, love it, or maybe right out think it shouldn't be mixed with D&D. So these are the options in the poll!
The "I don't know what Zendikar is" may also be the right answer if you just don't know enough about it to decide if it would make a good D&D world.
Friday, September 10, 2010, 10:35 AM
Also known as "fading horrors" by the unlucky people who have seen this reality-defying monstrosity, Parakhrons are named after their supposed provenance from a different era of Athas, when the Sea of Silt and other depressions were large oceans full of life.
Arcana DC 30: Maybe a ghost of one of the most fearsome creatures of the ancient sea-dominated era, or a supernatural amalgamation of more than one different creatures of the deep, parakhrons are incomprehensible in their drives and purposes. They tend to wait indefinitely in a particular spot near the Sea of Silt, being often mistaken for the common mirages that cause small vermin to appear as deformed and gigantic images on the sky due to a lens effect caused by high temperatures. Their true nature is revealed when they approach the creatures invading their territory with erratic aerial movements, luring them towards their enormous pincers with strange, high-pitched alien sounds. Parakhrons tend to attack and kidnap arcanists first. They tend to concentrate on one or two enemies only, often knocking them unconscious with a mentally-induced drowning state. It is said they focus on arcanists because they are conscious that it's because of arcane magic that the world has lost its seas. However, they tend to kidnap their preys without killing them, and by forcing them into their ghostly state, they can transport them unharmed inside rock cliffs and through the Sea of Silt, probably towards secluded caves. There are no tales of anyone so brave to try and save those that were kidnapped in this fashion by this mind-boggling monster, and nobody even tried to figure out what does the creature do to the captured humanoids.
For unknown reasons, Parakhron are often found in company of cloud rays, although the fact that the two are near each other is not always apparent. Cloud rays are probably able to find sustenance from the very psychic enery that surrounds every parakhron, and sometimes one or more cloud rays actually fly in circles around the ghost, who doesn't seem to care at all, even if this could mean giving other creatures a way to get close to the levitating horror, by riding a flying cloud ray.
Floating Mantles are the only other creatures that can be found near the Parakhron, because they share the same environment or maybe because of another unknown relationship between the two alien creatures.
Covered by a hard bluish carapace and boasting multiple eyes that can see all, this crustacean-looking monster levitates as if weightless over the Sea of Silt or near its shores, passing from being insubstantial to very solid when it attacks.
PARAKHRONS IN COMBAT
When the beast manages to grab one or two of its newly found preys with its claws, it induces them Another World Visions, until they nearly drown out of mental shock. Afterwards, the parakhron uses its Fading To The Blue ability, and in its ghostly state they and their prey reach completely secluded places, often caves inside cliffs that they reach flying directly inside the rock. They usually don't kill the ones they kidnap, but leave them badly wounded and mentally damaged, so if not saved soon enough, they could die anyway.
Sometimes a parakhron is not interested in kidnapping, but is seemingly guarding a place at all costs. In this case, it distributes its attacks so that nobody manages to escape the clutches of its Blue Vortex until it is killed or until its enemies desist, usually because they are too weak and incapable of healing because they suffered too many Another World Visions.
Monday, September 6, 2010, 6:26 PM
The court of Treichor IV, Archduke of Frejdale
The small, once-kingdom of Frejdale is ruled by what remains of the noble bloodline of its last king. The Treichors, a distantly related family the members of which, during the turmoiled course of the last two centuries, had earned the rank of arch-dukes and eventually remained the only ones with the right to govern the kingdom.
The hard laws of Frejdale, in which justice and bureaucracy are deeply felt, never permitted the leading arch-duke to actually become king, and so, while still remaining a monarchy, the hollow of power that the arch-duke could not legally fill was conquered by a series of political figures which didn't have a lot of power before, transforming the government in a sort of intricate oligarchy with only the executive and military left to the Archduke.
The troubled times following the disaster which fell upon the broken empire of Nerath were responsible of the severe losses of the old nobility, and at the same time caused the Frejdale to be reborn in a sort of renaissance thanks to the new re-organization of the government, which improved life in the big cities creating a middle class of citizens who still have access to many a rare opportunity, like arcane higher education, protection from both clerical and military law-enforcement and florid commerce and industry.
This in the largest cities.
The situation of the countryside is completely different. While the peasants still benefit from the feeling of security given by the law and its enforcement and the social spirituality offered by the leading church of Erathis, they are also scared to death by the monster-ridden wilderness out of the door, and they rely on the stout and strong militia sent by the Archduke, seeing them as an army of salvation, and keepers of peace.
Unknown to them, the majority of the ruling class, which means, with diverse degrees, the Archduke, the Over-Cardinal, the Master Chancellor and the Grand Magister, are using the lower class of the countryside burgs for deep, vast and obscure arcane and social experiments. Special knightly orders, with more dirt in their agenda than the people could reasonably believe, actually imprison the peasants with rigid curfews in order to perpetuate the dark goals of the rulers without the people knowing.
Also a lot of educated and intelligent individuals, many of them even well placed in the chain of command, are completely unaware of these secret agendas. Even the bright church of Erathis that the peple of Frejdale view as a font of salvation and order, shows itself riddled by a foul smell of corruption the more one gets close to the truths at its kernel.
The High Palacehdral of Grænomsgrad, home to the High and Lesser Courts of Frejdale. The main building is the "Great Erathidral", directly above it towers the enormous "Archduke's Pancapitol", the turret on the right is the "Magistrerat", and to the far left you can take a glimpse of the "Chancellery Halls".
The Archduke Treichor IV
Unaligned male Human, 39 years old.
STR 18, DEX 10, CON 17, INT 13, WIS 8, CHA 13
Trained skills: Endurance, Diplomacy, Intimidate, History, Bluff
The archduke is actually a dhampyr, as his parents and his grandfathers before him. They never lasted for so long as to raise suspicion of their unnatural origin, and it is a clouded story the one of their bloodline. The few members of his retinue aware of his true nature simply don't care: there are far stranger things in the world to be surprised about.
Treichor is actually the family name of the archduke, but it became nearly a title, since their family has ruled for so long. Due to this fact, they call themselves and are called by everyone Treichor, and their first name is never used, even in the few cases when it is known.
The archduke appears as an old man in a young body. His facial features are excavated, with deep scars and whitish facial hair almost impossible to remove completely. He is a big man, almost 7 feet tall and with the broad shoulders and strong arms of a knight veteran of many battles. His very scepter is a deadly-looking mace-like weapon, said to weight like half the archduke's whole body. When he wields it as a weapon in battle, he is said to be a blood-crazed fury, feared by enemies and allies alike. His outfit is all but royal in richness, and not one of his fingers is devoid of at least one ring. Since the Treichors apparently always hated the appearance of gold, all his jewels are made of platinum. Rubies and other rare, very often blood-red gems are all over his precious garments.
Perverse to the borderlands of evil nature, Treichor IV is an obsessive-compulsive type, with fetishisms for many things, including violence and power. More often than not, the maniac in him takes over so much that a lot of overly important facts can come to pass completely unobserved or unrecognized in front of him, something for which the rest of the ruling class is deeply grateful, since it allows them to basically do their own businesses and follow their agenda without him questioning their deeds or complaining about the constant replenishment of their funds, as long as they "feed him with the right food". Treichor IV, like most of the Treichors, is a hateful and convoluted xenophobe, who enjoys hiding it. He strikes deals with other kingdoms and races, sometimes not even convenient ones, just to keep them close enough to study them and hate them even more for their diversity. Behind closed doors, his monologues with his closest are riddled with racism in the form of dark humor, hysterical rants, and plainly catastrophic war plans, which always grow in size, but are never realized, not to the present day at least. All of this while displaying a completely different, friendly face to the embassies and enjoying the luxury of short and long (in distance and term) trade deals.
Contrasting Popularity: Many a member of the retinue is more popular than the archduke among the Frejdale's inhabitants, but fear of retaliation prevents all but the most subtle manifestation of this common sentiment.
Secrecy: The truths that the members of his retinue hide from Treichor's eyes are many, and each member hides something different as you'll discover while reading about them.
Gray eminence: The people view the archduke with respect dictated by fear, but their fondest loyalty goes to the church of Erathis, which is nevertheless deep inside the government, and to the Archduke's liking, since he defines himself a pious and zealous follower of Erathis, something that many wise members of the court view as an unbelievably childish part of the Archduke's personality.
Xenophobia: Only the arch-duke is really a xenophobe, but the court must act accordingly many times. However, both Archduke and court are more xenophobic than the rest of the populace which is in turn remarkably accustomed to the many races which inhabit the land.
Grand Magister Zoundall Wachlanis
Unaligned female Kalashtar, 44 years old.
STR 8, DEX 10, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 20, CHA 20
Trained Skills: Diplomacy, Bluff, Arcana, History, Religion, Insight, Nature, Thievery, Perception
The Grand Magister, title appointed to the head of the Magistris Academy and Arcane Institutions of Frejdale, is a surprisingly charismatic woman who has studied magic in a deeply alternative way, rather artistic in nature. While she always valued knowledge above nearly everything else, her natural abilities propelled her mind towards more instinctive and artistic directions when it came to learning the arcane. So she really only studied a lot of other subjects, but practically no magic. Magic was simply a talent of hers, since she was born.
Despite her age, she is a rather beautiful woman, possessing a nearly palpable aura of beguiling serenity and grace. Her 6 feet and 7 inches tall body is even more elegant in its streamlined curves than the extravagant dresses that Zoundall wears under her multicolored magic cloak. Her large and peculiar eyes are always kept under the shadow of the nearly monumental status-symbol crown that she always wears when appearing in public or just in front of other court members. When she speaks, she is able to do so respecting complex metrics and an elaborate musicality, so each and every time she speaks, the listeners have the impression of hearing softly-singed poems.
Famous more for her poetry and her charm than for her telepathy and her ability to predict the future, deviously curious and clever Zoundall always tended to hide her incredibly vast repertoire of resources, using them only in key situations, which for her had always been the ones where power could be gained. While not hungry of power for power's sake, Zoundall always felt the need to escalate the chain of power. Probably just because she always knew that it was the obligated path towards the secrets she yearned. Her supernatural abilities seemed tailor-made for politics, so she earned her position with relative ease, and she is not expected to pass on her honorable title anytime soon.
Only a very few know that Zoundall is not human, or at least not entirely. It is well known that she was adopted by her parents, so a lot of people ask themselves where could the "Rainbow Mage" (as many call her) actually come from. The truth is not known to Zoundall either, since she never encountered another individual of her race. But she knows part of her is not of this world, and probably because of this certainty with no known explanation Zoundall has developed a twisted mind. Brief visions and insights always seem to guide her to many a baffling arcane mystery, and with the years, the whole picture has turned clearer and clearer to the mage, eventually leading her to the unbelievable project that is now her obsession. She discovered that magically augmenting the dreams of mortal being, it was possible to give life to a permanent dreamscape-world, existing in parallel to the natural world just like the Shadowfell and Feywild. Besides, the more the dreamscape grew, the more the influence of both Shadowfell, Feywild and maybe even farther planes was felt on the world in the interested area. Sharing these insights with the Archduke, the Over-Cardinal, and the Master Chancellor, while at the same time molding the facts into concepts that each member could have found appealing, she managed to make them appreciate how much of a gold mine this phenomenon could turn into, if given the right direction. The people of the Feywild and the Shadowfell would have payed inestimable tributes for such a service, and the Onis, typically interested in manipulating the dreams of their victims, would have been extremely grateful if they had the permission to act without fear of retaliation. Zoundall found in the Over-Cardinal a surprisingly valid ally, since he found a way to "canonize" these new insights (or at least the not unspeakable portions of them) so that they could be accepted by the most pious and politically influent high prelates of the church of Erathis. So the High Court soon recognized that they would have had anything they wanted without paying anything for it if not the consciousness of a bunch of countryside peasants. After all, not only could this arbitrary stretching of the planar borders be a trading boon. It could also open the way to secret planar war campaigns that would have brought to Frejdale the advantages of war without the disadvantages, providing that the planar borders could be controlled so that the battles would always be fought on the far sides.
Truth is, Zoundall doesn't care about the material advantages that her discovery could bring, those are only incentives for the other members of the High Court to approve her crazy plan. Her only interest is to follow her insights to see what happens, to learn what's beyond, to receive further glimpses of an increasingly strange future.
Contrasting Popularity: Zoundall is probably the single member of the High Court with the strongest popularity these days. She is acclaimed as "the new, beautiful face of arcane studies", and she is responsible of a dramatic increase of students at the Accademy. She is also an easy target for gossips and rumors, and she is happy about that because they keep the interest of the citizens far from her real agenda.
Secrecy: Zoundall Wachlanis hides many things from the short-sighted archduke. She never told him about the true means by which she could achieve her planar-thinning phenomenon, knowing that while he could very well stand the violence and perversion involved, he would not stand the idea of mingling so closely with Onis and Witches. Knowing such monstrosities roam his land, he would order a military campaign and slowly hunt them all down. So with both the collaboration of the Master Chancellor, who has a deep carnal interest for the Grand Magister and is thus easily manipulated, and the direct help of the corrupted Over-Cardinal who is interested in subjugating the countryside in each way possible, Zoundall manages to have the Archduke support her plans without him knowing anything but what's profitable and amusing about it. And even then, there is no telling how many lies she managed to make him believe.
Master Chancellor Urzival Drechburg
Unaligned male Dwarf, 96 years old.
STR 10, DEX 8, CON 15, INT 21, WIS 13, CHA 13
Trained Skills: Diplomacy, History, Insight, Arcane, Religion, Thievery, Bluff, Streetwise
The Master Chancellor is the law-maker in chief of the nation, with his power sphere including many other areas, often marginally, but sometimes strongly, like in the case of the judging system.
Like most of the many rich dwarves of the capital, Urzival has nearly lost his cultural heritage, integrating with the cosmopolitan world of the big city in a complete way. Maybe even of mixed blood, Urzival stands tall for a dwarf at 5 feet, and he is even rather emaciated at first impact, with slim arms and legs, and a rather elongated skull. His wide chest and waist, the prominent pouch, and the beard are the only truly dwarven features on Urzival.
Deeply interested in economics and industry, the laws and systems Urzival came up with, during his career that saw him in charge since the first years of Treichor III, are probably the most influential reasons for which the Frejdale is now a pleasant place to live in.
Also moderately expert in arcane craftmanship himself, he created the modestly popular Guild of Artifice and with it and a series of deals with the Magistris Academy he helped the spreading out of magic devices in the cities.
Urzival could be considered a nearly heroic figure in Frejdale for the extent of his deeds, if only the last of those deeds didn't date back to more than two decades ago. When the present day Grand Magister Zoundall earned her title, thus entering the High Court of the Archduke. In that moment, the ingenious, smart, extremely knowledgeable Master Chancellor started thinking in much less useful things than the ones he used to. Deeply attracted by Zoundall, who possessed exactly the things that he never did: grace, intuition, spirituality, and sheer force of personality. Not to mention opposite sex. He redirected all his efforts, all his mind prowess towards conquering Zoundall, not understanding that while he could so well employ his talents in different directions, Zoundall mind, will, and soul were a single titanic monolith raised to only one purpose. And love was not included in it.
Urzival was so vulnerable to Zoundall's whims that she even grew more amoral than ever during her ongoing mandate, just because of how easy it was to manipulate Urzival.
The Master Chancellor thus became an instrument in Zoundall's hands, that is, in the hands of arcane planar magic itself. He is the architect behind the complex law system that prevent the "Dreaming Conspiracy" to be discovered by the people and most of the members of the lesser retinue of the Treichor. He has created a secret "mirror" of the Artifice Guild with the only purpose of creating magical devices that could aid Zoundall's complex magical schemes, and he has even unwillingly helped the Over-Cardinal and his corrupted knightly orders in reaching the power they now greedily take advantage of. After all he too is a follower of Erathis like most in Frejdale, so he can even feel his spiritual conscience clean. At least according to his current knowledge of the church, which he still thinks is the regular church of Erathis it always was...
Just recently and probably due to the slow but unstoppable approach of old age, Urzival is starting to feel bitter for the situation with Zoundall, which never went past a few neglectable, if faintly erotic events in more than two decades. He is still convinced he could win Zoundall (he views his sentimental struggle in political and economical terms) with the right moves, but he is confused and demoralized. He never questioned the morality of Zoundall, but just because Zoundall never told Urzival all the truth. If he discovered something more about her plans, could he start changing his mind about her? Or something else would be needed for him to stop supporting her plans? And even if the truth would someday come up, wouldn't it seem too beautiful and too useful to Urzival and many of the most educated members of the Academy?
Secrecy: Treichor doesn't know, and in Urzival's words "does not need to know" about the second Artifice Guild, the blueprints of the planar devices and the extent of their power, and the actual purpose of the new "laws of loyalty", apart from their evident function of ensuring even more loyalty among the distant countryside inhabitants. He only knows some gruesome details he enjoys, like the secret ensalvement of the countryside and he knows that through that and in concert with Zoundall, Urzivall is preparing the terrain for the next generation's war campaigns which the citizens will not even acknowledge.
The Over-Cardinal Shattrevolf
Evil male Human, 53 years old.
STR 12, DEX 8, CON 10, INT 13, WIS 18, CHA 18
Trained Skills: Religion, Intimidate, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance
Shattrevolf, official name appointed to Dedmutrik Shwartciel when he entered the High Erathian Prelatus, could pass for a perfectly normal individual under unofficial garments. He is rather short, hardly reaching more than 6 feet, with still a modest amount of still dark brown hair, a probably normal looking body, and small eyes, of a glacial light grey if anything. The gaze of those cold orbs manages to be warm when needed.
And if Shattrevolf really needs something, is to conceal the bitter coldness of his heart.
Devoid of the strange fettishisms that he knows to be plaguing the other eminent personalities of the High Court, Shattrevolf is a calculating demagogue with simple, genuine desires like gaining more power, accumulating riches, having control over the population and eventually overthrowing the archduke and forming a powerful theocratic monarchy. He is not obsessed by his objectives, he just has them clear. But like his divine master teaches, he patiently waits, knowing his place at any given time, while not wasting even a drop of the great power he has. Through overly patient and accurate subtlety, he manages to hide nothing less but the allegiance with a deity nearly diametrically opposite to the one of HIS church.
Nobody could tell with certainty when he abandoned Erathis in favor of Asmodeus. What's certain is that leveraging on Treichor's military lust and striking good mutually beneficial deals with the Grand Magister Zoundall, Shattrevolf has managed to offer to Asmodeus something that very few of his dark priests have come to accomplish. A new piece of Hell. Through planar rituals and devices conveniently and unwillingly provided by Zoundall and Urzival, Shattrevolf has made contact with Hell and has transformed a part of the permanent Dreamscape created by Zoundall's experiments into a Hell's "separata sedis", an embassy of Baator itself. By doing so, he also created a previously unknown way to influence creatures with diabolic power. He easily convinced Treichor to gather his hobgoblin army for an "upgrade", and indeed made of them better soldiers infusing them with powers propers of devils. Treichor of course does not know the whole story, but is so happy with the improved efficiency of his troops that he would probably don't even care that much. Such is his proximity to evil.
Not single-headedly strong enough to protect himself from every danger he risks, Shattrevolf makes use of loyal (corrupted) prelates, entire knightly orders of the curch, particularly "en-devilished" chapters of the archduke's army, and even true devils. Among these, a powerful assassin devil known by Shattrevolf and his closest minsters as Master Rax. With him and his small but deadly retinue of assassin imps, Shattrevolf can get rid of practically any adversary he wishes, at any time. Something that he does, occasionally. However, even if Shattrevolf's raw numbers are already bigger than those of Treichor IV, especially taking into account the populace general preference for the church in place of the true government, an overthrowing of the Archduke is still far away. And it is not only because the most powerful generals of the army still prefer the command of Treichor, and are thus potentially dangerous. It's especially because of the incorruptible portion of the church itself. After all, if Shattrevolf is managing to keep such a big secret in place, it is because the vast majority of the church is still a church of Erathis in all but its head. Devoted prelates, single-minded paladins and recently even a zealous sect of directly inspired invokers are an obstacle that Shattrevolf can't simply eliminate through murder. He must do so with subtlety and with the aid of the Master Chancellor juridical ability. Besides, the power of Shattrevolf has the weakness of deriving from the eldritch planar link created by the genius of Zoundall, and thus the Over-Cardinal happens to be held in check by a number of important and informed mages of the Arcane Institutions and a few of the magisters of the Academy. They discovered hints to Shattrevolf's machinations, and unlike the more distant and detached Zoundall, they demand favors in order to stay quiet and not investigate further.
For all these reasons, for the time being, the Over-Cardinal is forced to gain power on a very slow-paced time basis, a pain he is aware must be endured to assure victory. After all, even like this, there's no doubt that Shattrevolf's influence is already larger than that of Treichor, and the people know it. What they don't know is that the fact does not add to the glory of Erathis but to that of Asmodeus.
Contrasting Popularity: After Zoundall, the most popular member of the court is surely Shattrevolf. People view him as a wise man, as much skilled in politics as pious in his faith. His public appearances are frequent but nevertheless deeply felt by the people as spiritually deep events. The lesser court view him with ambition-ridden awe, because they hope in better positions if they please him now that he could be so close in taking power. The only ones who really tend to despise him, although not openly, are the afore-mentioned restricted circles of official mages and magisters.
Secrecy: If Treichor knew the truth about the devilish empowerment of his army, he would probably accept it, his xenophobia being not so strong as his military fervor. But if he knew about the true devils that stalk the halls of the High Basilica, and the constant spilling out of Baator's essence inside Frejdale's not so distant dreamscape, he would literally loose his mind and a civil war against the whole church, including the still truly Erathian portion of it, would certainly be waged. With unprecedented destruction and woe for the entire Frejdale and who knows what repercussions on the already planned planar wars, and the relationships with the other planar allies and enemies.
I'M SORRY TO HAVE TO DECLARE THAT AFTER HAVING LOST A GOOD AMOUNT OF EDITING IN A FIREFOX CRASH, I'LL NOT COMPLETE THIS ENTRY, JUDGE IT AS IT IS.
Monday, September 6, 2010, 4:10 PM
Lord Archaon the planeswalker has made a habit out of collecting dragon eggs and training the dragonlings. He also is in the process of writing a bestiary where all the new dragon and drake species are going to be catalogued.
You too can visit the mystical Dragon Cave and start collecting dragon eggs, hurry up if you want to secure the best ones for yourself..! ;-)
Species: Spitfire Dragon (Drake)
Environment: Deserts and glass caves made by the dragon's sand-melting fiery breath.
Age: Mature hatchling
Current planar location: Athas, northern Endless Dunes
Phyrhedral was brought to Athas by the planeswalker Lord Archaon not long ago, and left inside a partially subterranean ruined temple known to the planeswalker for harboring a strange relic of an old age, a nexus of psionic power.As Lord Archaon foresaw, the Spitfire hatchling responded well to the psionic energies, adapting to them and starting to develop new powers, since it belonged to a young and still moldable species.The turqoise colored scales of the small drake are indeed made of true mineral material, and were sensitive to psychic waves in a unique way.
Phyrhedral also changed his aggressive behaviour, becoming more reflexive, but not less able as a hunter.
Lord Archaon is following the little drake's progresses with great interest, and will probably train the drake to become a mount for powerful heroes opposing the Sorcerer Kings, thus indirectly helping the subjugated people of Athas.
Species: Neotropical Dragon (Drake)
Environment: Tropical rainforests, directly under the canopy zone
Age: Mature hatchling
Parents: Neotropical Dragon / Water Horse Dragon
Current planar location: Lord Archaon's secret demiplane
Ayguacaibys, so named by the planeswalker after the name of a fruit that both him and the little dragonling liked to eat, also has the blood of a strange water drake in his lineage. Archaon is said to be eagerly searching for a specimen of this fabled Water Horse Dragon, in order to breed a true hybrid species one day, starting from the already half-blooded Ayguacaiybys.
The brightly colored dragonling is displaying the habit of mashing the tropical fruits it prefer and spicing it with onion, tomato, lime, and a bit of chily pepper, showing great culinary talent and intelligence.
LordArchaon is planning to never release Ayguacaibys in the known planes, because he believes his artistry would not be comprehended as well as he thinks the drake deserves. Nevertheless, he is also planning to train Ayguacaibys to combat when he will be larger and stronger. As of now, the planeswalker has no idea of the kind of abilities this little dragon could display when completely matured. But the winged magical beast is surely growing up fast eating all his self-made (and named) "Ayguacamole"...
Species: Coastal Waverunner (Drake)
Environment: Open oceans, or high seaside cliffs during the breeding season
Age: Mature hatchling
Parents: Nebula Dragon / Coastal Waverunner (summoned)
Current planar location: Lord Archaon's secret demiplane
Altiva is the first of her species to be born instead of summoned, and is also born of a very rare and powerful Nebula Dragon, a dragon of the Astral Sea, said to be a member of the Catastriphic Dragons family, but devoid of the ferociousness of the typical individuals of that cursed lineage.
Altiva is already displaying the wisdom and keen senses proper of her astral parent and the reflexes, speed, and agility of the parent of her proper kin.
Lord Archaon is sure she will become the most incredible flyer of his demiplane, but is considering never training her to become a ride, since he is becoming fond of the freedom-ridden nature of this maturing she-drake.
Her possible destination plane may be the Elemental Chaos, where Lord Archaon would like her to learn how to stay calm in the midst of the most dreadful elemental storms, and considering her wits, he expects her to develop a mental discipline and a phylosophy akin to that of the fabled Githzerai monks, who chose the Elemental Chaos as their home.
Species: Shallow Water Dragon (Orange Dragon)
Environment: Warm lagoons or lakes of any temperature if connected to the Feywild
Age: Mature hatchling
Parents: Shallow Water Dragon / Magi Dragon
Current planar location: A lake in the Feywild, west of Nentir Vale.
Shaloow Sasheloss was named by Lord Archaon in honor of an exarch of the fey gods, an arch-fey of the Court of Coral.
The planeswalker had to fight a memorable underwater battle against unspeakable sea horrors in order to recover this rare egg from the depths of the seas of Arvandor, where aquatic abominations had breached through the planar rift leading to Carceri.
To the planeswalker's relief and surprise, this egg pertained to a species of true chromatic dragons, previously not even considered dragons due to their lack of wings. Archaon has already observed great magical or possibly even psionic abilities from the dragonling's mother, and a great deal of wizardry from the different species father, but since the two turned against him after the battle with the abominations, Lord Archaon didn't observe their abilities all too well, considering a rapid escape the wisest option since he wanted to steal the dragon's egg...
The planeswalker is observing with joy the incredible developments of Sasheloss, and is convinced that he may one day entirely replace the fey exarch he was named after, since his strange, unmatched draconic beauty is sure to have some connection with the fey.
Lord Archaon has compiled a bestiary page regarding Sasheloss's mother, in which he also points out how he and other sages are now convinced that this is a previously unknown type of true chromatic dragon. The Orange Dragon.