Dicember 2021 – slow

Sometimes a spell needs cast, but the target is nowhere around. Or they moved out of range (that jerk), or they were never actually really in range to begin with (dammit) but you just know they need that cure spell/fireball/dark hex dropped on their head and they needed it yesterday.

There’s a way to get around that!

The downside is that it’s not the nice swift casting many sorcerers, wyches and swordmages are used to. Not by a long shot.

The upside is that not only can you whittle that loooong timeframe down, you can also choose to boost the spell’s power the same way — by throwing bodies and treasure at the problem. Sort of like everything else in the world, when you think about it.

The basic premise is:

– You need a catalyst to fuel such extended spellcasting.
– You need to know where your target is (scrying magic is totally allowable).
– If you don’t also know your target well, you need a physical sample or a closely-associated object to draw the connection to the target.
– Any casting will take one hour, minimum. For every 10 miles away, add another hour.
– Anyone, including the target, who can sense magical energies will notice the buildup halfway through the process — and some may have the ability to target you, back through the building spell.

However, there are mitigating circumstances to make this slightly less painful:

– For every extra caster taking part in the ritual, either the total time may be lowered by one hour, or the spell (or the test against it) can be given a one-increment boost — another effective level’s damage die, if using those, or a save against it is given a -1 penalty, for example.
– Non-casters can help, but each requires an additional catalyst and, on top of that, take 1d3 “damage” to an ability for 24 hrs.
So if you really, really badly want that long-distance spell cast — or just to seriously boost a spell result closer to home — put in the time and give it a shot.

Needed Catalyst

01. dragon’s tear
02. jadetree twig
03. lunargent ingot
04. lock of bloodlord’s hair
05. page of centuries-old manuscript
06. pair of darkwolf teeth
07. shadowmoth cocoon
08. swordsaint’s relic
09. angel’s talon
10. solaurum ingot
11. chain of blue-celestine links
12. consecrated altar-wood

Oh no, the spell was thwarted! What was the cause?

01. Nullmagic zone
02. Circle of countercasting ritualists
03. Sleeping in protective circle inscribed by tusk-wand
04. Was in a holy (or unholy) sanctuary
05. Peach-stone talisman, now charred
06. Angelic intervention
07. Diabolic intervention
08. Pact with a bloodlord
09. Transferred spell to second, willing target
10. Location and/or identity of target was not in fact accurate
11. Purified by salt and rose petals
12. Flaw in catalyst(s) used by ritual

Dicember 2021 – runic

Runes are a collection of small enchantments — or evocations of the power of the world, or bits of spirit knowledge, or however you choose to apply them in your game — that anyone can pick up and learn.

There are no “spell slots” or the equivalent involved, just the knowledge of the rune and the time to prepare it. Once made, a rune may be kept almost indefinitely; however, they certainly aren’t immune to being lost, damaged or erased, or deliberately destroyed. Activating a rune — which requires contact — expends the power of it, but the physical rune may often remain and can be “topped up”.

The number of runes an individual may have prepared depends entirely on their available materials and time. The number of runes which may be used in a day, however, are limited by one’s fortitude and will (i.e. the higher of a character’s applicable attributes — Body and Psyche for Wandering Jewel Moons, Constitution and Wisdom for OSE/The Black Hack/etc — divided by 3).

Some sample runes:

01. Gleam: Limns supernatural things or manifestations in a soft, brief glow
02. Soothe: Calms the nerves, removes fear and lifts fogginess of the mind or heart
03. Mend: Restores a repairable object; think torn clothing
04. Sustain: Nourishes as a good meal and drink does
05. Ignite: Kindles a flame, or grants fire’s warmth
06. Freeze: Induces cold, potentially enough to cause frost
07. Illuminate: Creates light of the power and duration of a candle
08. Communicate: Understand an unknown language until encounter with it ends
09. Hold: Seal a portal or container closed
10. Inspire: Uplifting surge ensures next task will succeed
11. Abjure: Repel specified malignant forces for a dawn-dusk cycle (or reverse)
12. Heal: Banish disease or infection, last injury knits twice as fast

You can give them more interesting names, of course, even simple ones, maybe something like

01. Wyrdrune
02. Heartrune
03. Weaverune
04. Breadrune
05. Flamerune
06. Frostrune
07. Brightrune
08. Speechrune
09. Lockrune
10. Faterune
11. Wardrune
12. Bloodrune

Each rune requires at least two of several possible elements in order to be successfully created; perhaps a specific colour of pigment, a particular addition to that pigment, or a burin or knife or stylus or brush made at least partially from a specific substance. Some may also have a “preferred” material to be placed upon.

It’s not a terrible idea to also design some omni-applicable elements — perhaps suitably unusual or rare — to give out as goals, or simply as a flavour to add.

An example set of associations, using the runes above:

01. seashell; silver; dew; ivory tool
02. applewood; rose; wine; willow tool
03. leather; tawny; dust; oak tool
04. maplewood; green; blood; willow tool
05. jet; orange; ash; iron tool
06. glass; azure; salts; iron tool
07. horn; yellow; wax; oak tool
08. paper; violet; sugar; ivory tool
09. foil; black; resin; iron tool
10. copper; gold; gall; willow tool
11. parchment; red; incense; ivory tool
12. linen; green; marigold; oak tool
* omni-applicable — black rosewood or tree ivory; ultramarine; musk; moonsilver or sungold tool

Dicember 2021 – balefire

Not all dabblers in the arts of death confine themselves to flesh and bone, or even to the rarified essence of the restless unliving soul; a rare few find themselves enraptured by the rarest of manifestations, the unique intersection of death and soul and prayer and emotion that comes to a head when a beloved one is laid to rest on a funeral pyre.

Sometimes that pyre burns so fiercely — carries so much of its burden to mingle with the grief and the yawning finality of the afterlife — that its flames absorb all, and in the depths of the dancing fires something else catches alight.

That something is pyreflame, and its pale strange fires are valued and abhorred.

A strange substance, it is. Flickering like flames, it casts off a foxfire phosphorescence like a sheen across its bright blaze; and it blazes in colours of pale green, greenish golden, faint blue or a ghostly white. There’s an eerie solidity to pyreflame, a sense of clinging, syrupy presence, an almost jelly-like consistency that nonetheless slips through the fingers — and slip it may, without harm, because pyreflame does not burn living flesh. It feeds on bone, and only bone.

A swift harvester may count themselves lucky if they recover more than a thimbleful or two from any given fiery altar, gathering the clinging tongues of pyreflame into iron or crystal or stiffened silk. Of course, the gathered mourners may not approve of this behaviour …

But what does it do, this strange amalgamation of essence and prayer and spirit, of afterlives fair and foul?

– A dram of pyreflame will fuel any magic that involves the soul, the spirit, prayers or petitions or calls to higher (or lower) powers, instead of relying on the caster’s own reserves.

– Perhaps paradoxically, it will both fuel necromantic magic likewise, offering a greater animating spark to the unliving produced by such rites, and will cause any weapon smeared with at least a dram (more, for larger weapons) to cause critical and irreparable injury to the undead.

– A dram of pyreflame will also grant great restorative power to the healing arts, which will be cast at their maximum potential without fail.

– One may consume pyreflame, with unpredictable results:

01. Gain partial memories of the deceased
02. Gain one of the skills or talents of the deceased
03. Purge all impurities and weaknesses but be vulnerable to banishment or castigation as the unliving are
04. Attract the attention of one or more powers to whom mourning prayers were addressed (but sense the content of those prayers)
05. You now sense the presence of the newly and the restless dead
06. Develop the need to feed on at least a pound of human bone each week
07. You can, if you exert yourself, open the way to the underworld, but must pay in consumption of bone and blood
08. Burn out half of your allotted lifespan in a blaze of frenzied, aethereal enlightenment

Of course, there is also the rumour that, if enough pyreflame is consumed — and one is not overwhelmed or driven mad or mummified while living or any number of other whispered possibilities — one may catalyze the prayer-stuff and soul-stuff and lingering life-and-death and become a veritable small godling in one’s own right, capable of hearing prayer and snatching them the very air to, perhaps, grant, or to feed on as your rightful repast, or fuel your sorceries, or all of these things.

One does have to wonder what existing powers may think of such a thing.

Or, for that matter, the loved ones of those whose final travels you stole your quickening flames from.

Dicember 2021 – unholy

Sometimes they fall.

“They” are virtually anyone. Grand holy knights and those sworn to higher powers, of course; the high hosts themselves and all their servant creatures, without a doubt; but also all those who try to reach for something better, something grander than themselves.

Sometimes, their reach exceeds their grasp, through their action or inaction or the one black moment when all one can do is lash out. Or fail to lash out. Or to act at all. Or perhaps act too much.

It doesn’t matter, really.

Sometimes they fall.

And, sometimes, they fall so fast and so deep that the act can never be truly hidden from sight.

Cast out, cast down, fallen, marked —

01. by Rage: blood-banner aura, burning eyes, mouth marred by bloodstained tusks
02. by Betrayal: crawling scars, bloody tears, crown of leaden horns piercing the scalp
03. by Oathbreaking: blackened mouth, smoke-haze aura, trailing phantasmal chains of bleeding gold
04. by Grief: corpse-pallor, black lacework scars, perpetual trails of thin black tears
05. by Temptation: cloven hooves, slit-pupiled eyes, golden nimbus shot with fissures and cracks
06. by Binding: thorn-chain brands, twisted bone-barbed limb, a collar of cold fire
07. by Corruption: ink-pool eyes, serpent’s tongue, patches of velvet scales upon the flesh
08. by Vice: whispering voice, satin skin, warm brassy antlers curving and baroque
09. by Ennui: unnatural soft flesh, burbling voice, a pale tattered trailing shadow
10. by Spite: bleeding mouth, blunt curving claws, a frozen fang-filled snarl
11. by Dishonour: phantom castigation chants, ashy touch, burning brand upon the brow
12. by Repudiation: clouded eyes, tongue of flame, flesh of marble seamed with ember’d veins

Dicember 2021 – snow

For all the pale chill darkness where the snow runs deep — for all the fleetingness of summer and the long cold grip of the winter nights — it is not as if nothing lives, no one lives, in the Brilliant Lands. Far from it.

Be it fellow travellers or fair terrors, who might you meet?

01. A lordling in sable-trimmed finery, out for blood-oath payment with a retinue of spear-masters
02. A rimewalker, frozen heart exposed horribly, blackened talons caked with crimson ice
03. A ghost lion, shoulder-tall and snow-smoke-pelted, in search of prey or den
04. A gnarled puck bent beneath a pine-bough basket’s weight, offering dreams for wishes
05. A snow-witch, wrapped in icy finery and crowned with glittering thorns, singing a storm to life
06. A small herd of caribou, spooked and fleeing or, rarity of rarities, standing to stare in wary curiosity
07. A foxfire racing across snowy drifts and frozen bog, its tail flagging like a blue-white flame
08. A hunter, clad in verdant wool and heavy leathers, with a brace of snowhounds snuffling the drifts
09. A delicate iceknight, promises of eternal comfort falling from pale thin lips as they approach
10. A sleigh pulled by shaggy-coated horses, loaded with bales and bundled pelts and a traveller or two
11. A winterdrake, all coils of blue-frost scale and ice-splinter fangs and dark whispers of winter night
12. A family fleeing calamity, everything they have in the bundled packs lashed to their backs

Dicember 2021 – forest

Travelling through the great deep forest can be a wonderful, relaxing experience; trails dappled with sunlight, chirruping songbirds, maybe a chance to take a shot at a hare or a deer or the like for your dinner (and dinner to share at that), maybe the discovery of a sprawling patch of morels or a burbling brook or, oh wondrous moment, a traveller’s lean-to maintained by years of fellow wanderers …

Oh. Oh, dear.

This doesn’t seem to be that kind of forest, does it.

What has the forest let you find?

01. A white stag that fades to bone and mist as it leaps away
02. A lone birch with golden leaves marked as if by tearstains
03. Three pillars, blade-like, of pockmarked black stone
04. A gossamer net strung across a shadowed side-trail
05. A cairn of softly glowing wolf skulls
06. A figure in torn leathers, lying still inside a ring of crimson toadstools
07. A pine weeping blood-red sap from savaged bark
08. Six pinecones gleaming oddly silver in the unsteady light
09. A tiny glade carpeted with tattered moth’s wings
10. A ring of trees grown together, so much like a small hut with hearth
11. A weathered sword of bone and gold thrust half to the hilt in an ancient oak
12. First one white sparrow follows you; then two; then four; then eight; then …

Dicember 2021 – night

A delicate collection of slightly fraying scrolls; velvety black cotton paper, picked out in inks of white and silver and palest electrum and deep dark blues; bundled in wolfhide, or packed in a willow-withe basket, or sealed in a silver casket as round as the moon.

These are the remaining sorcerous works of Kha’heba, Whisper Of Midnight.

01. Eyes Of The Night: Under natural night-time darkness, see with perfect clarity; enchantments are limned with moonlight. Lasts until sunrise.
02. Mothlure: Designate an object and a type of target (elves, skeletons, moths); all in a mile’s range are drawn to the object. 8 hrs or until sunrise.
03. Midnight’s Stroke: Semi-corporeal blue-black weapon that does no damage but stuns those attacked into inaction for 1d6 missed actions. 1d8 min.
04. Afraid Of The Dark: Target is -2 on all tests/rolls at night or in darkness; unnerved and jumpy. Three days or until hex is lifted.
05. Nightcloak: Covers 100′ sq. area in soft nighttime darkness; allies are refreshed and all gain one extra action before spell ends, antagonists must check morale. 10 min.
06. Dreamless Sleep: Target falls into unwakeable slumber for eight hours, wakes healed and cleansed of disease/poison, but at Disadvantage for a day due to disorientation.
07. The Eternal River: Travel at riverboat pace for the night towards destination, along the river of stars. Ends at sunrise.
08. Night’s Watch: Calls small creatures — moths, bats, mice, cats — to stand as a warning system, alerting caster to danger or unusual activity nearby. 6 hrs.

Dicember 2021 – present

Outside bustling townships, Whitestone and Javir and Xhori and the like, and beyond the soaring porcelain-tiled towers of Ariaenna and Sunsfall and Burab and the other Great Cities, there are other, older traditions at work.

If one travels beyond the pebbled cobalt glass of the Rose Roads, one such tradition still reigns in force:

Along the winding trails and wagon-tracks that crisscross the land, one will frequently see, lining the path, rows of unusual plants. Whether tall nodding grasses or clumps of weedy greens or slender lilies or tangled patches of vines, all have one trait in common — their stems, their leaves, seem tipped and edged in golden brown or russet red.

Also they grow the year round. Not even the wild winter winds can end them.

It is tradition, cherished tradition, for a traveler to bury some token, however small, perishable or no, along the road when and where they might do so. A coin or three, a packet of needles, an egg or a small loaf, a thumb-tin of ointment; a melon rind saved over, a patch for a cloak, a precious draft of water poured carefully. So long as the token holds meaning for the offerer — so long as it is offered honestly — it is good.

It is tradition, cherished tradition, for a traveler in dire need to pull up a plant whole from along the road, and in papery pod-tubers in its root-ball one will find what one needs to carry on. Bread, water, a phial of physick, a cloak balled up tightly, a coin or three.

It is tradition, cherished tradition, to give back what one can, when one can.

The roots of the roads know their people.

Dicember 2021 – daemon

Do you have a Sesh glyph?

They’re very useful, if you can acquire one — many archivists and scriveners and sages of all stripes have one, as do most arcanists and more than a few masters of merchant-caravans and curious nobles and busy churchfolk. Sometimes you can buy one, or pay (in coin or kind or stranger things) to have one designed for you, at a curio shop or a scribal hall; and many are those who apprenticed to magic, successfully or no, who received their glyph courtesy of their mentor. They all come from someone who already possesses one, of course, because designing a new glyph requires a Sesh to be present to recognize and accept it.

What’s a Sesh, you ask?

Why, the most convenient of entities. Summon a Sesh — a gnarled little figure the size of a husky housecat, all dull-jewel scales and twisted horns and stubby wings and twisting tail — by drawing your glyph, preferably at the end of some missive or other, and the eldritch little clerk will appear out of the very air, scrollcase clutched in its twisting little talons.

Now pop your letter, or letters, or whatever else you wish, into that scrollcase it offers you, seal it up smartly, and write your glyph on one end of the case and — this is quite important — the glyph of your intended recipient on the other. The Sesh will snatch up the case and its contents and quick as a breath carry it through the nothingness between to the other party.

It’s amazingly convenient, and why, the Sesh asks for nothing but the chance to carry missives, and for only its scrollcases to be used. And that nothing be too large to fit — the case absolutely must be capable of sealing.

It’s a useful, wonderful thing to have in your pocket, as it were, isn’t it?

Just be certain you write the glyphs properly, of course. Your missive will just be brought back, battered and faded and the worse for wear by a very annoyed Sesh.

And check to be certain that there’s no lingering glyphs hanging around, in the bargain. The Sesh will deliver to every glyph indicated, after all; that’s its task and it will see it done.

But you’ll be careful, right?

Oh I do hope you get yourself a glyph soon!

Dicember 2021 – rage

In the aftermath of the Four Sorcerers Clash, there it lay in its bondage, straining against the chains of blood-golden light that bound it, pinned it motionless into the rubble that once was Ruthenen’s mightiest mountain.

In warring against each other, Ruthenen’s wild spell-magisters uncovered a being more fearful than they could ever hope to be.

Now they lay shattered beneath the broken stones and ashen forest, and in their place a fallen titan of tyrannical eternity strained four golden arms against its bonds; clashed its great wolf’s jaws in silent scissoring of starlight fangs; thrust a single spiralling horn of blood-stained twilight towards the uncaring sky; tore pearled and sable scales the size of small huts free against its phantom chains as its falcon-talons, greater than grand halls, tore furrows like small ravines through the earth.

The Golden Night rages against a fettering set in place long before mortals came to Ruthenen.

The Golden Night howls in silent fury to an uncaring heaven its burning eyes can once again behold.

The Golden Night whispers to the heart of any who approach its bulk; terrible, wondrous, furious, thirsting.

Lift even the least of my bonds and

01. I will forge you into a conqueror of steel and sunfire
02. all that you hate will burn to scarlet ashes
03. you will come to sit at my right hands and wield my sickle
04. all will bow to what you shall become
05. white flame shall scour the unworthy from existence
06. we will pull the traitor heavens down into the earth

Yet all around the titan, in the rubble and the wreckage, and the dying mountain, the decaying forest, there is a sign …

01. where ichor pools under scale-stripped flesh the earth turns to chalky ashes
02. animals that approach within a furlong turn on each other without fail
03. above the fallen titan the sky appears blank, a white and empty void
04. silver blackens and bubbles, copper and bronze patinate and slowly grow tiny branches
05. each day more and more strange knots of congealed anger range the countryside, congeries of crimson and black and bruise-purple that lash with coiling barbs and waves of red fury
06. shattered rock slowly shifts and reconfigures across the land into the shape of four great blades

… and there are also wondrous things …

01. from ichor and chalk spring tiny golden flowers that cleanse all infirmity
02. rasped golden flesh reveals true-gold veins within, and hints of glittering sky-iron sinew
03. spars of fallen scale, rich with power and sharp as a lie, cry out to be forged
04. silent snarls, heavy of breath, congeal in the cool of night into tiny amorphous masses, like silk-light smoke-blue ambergris heavy with secrets
05. cracks in the battered earth gleam bone-golden, amber and opal, suffused with the light of titanic binding
06. what would happen if one consumed the merest morsel, the tiniest crumb of flesh?

… but suppose instead one wished to warn, or gain the aid of, or parley with …

01. the Sapphirine Concordat, of the sorcerer’s folly if nothing else
02. the seven prismatic cranes of sharp crystal plumage that fly on slow circuitous route around Ruthenen’s fallen lands since the Clash
03. Hess’skenieth The Sundered, most ancient of dragons, scaled in ochre and orchid, said to be older than the gods themselves
04. the Six Faiths Of The Turning Heavens, for surely those summer-robed dedicants have some concealed wisdoms
05. a slim, patient representative of the Pearl-Shadowed Hell, just waiting to be called upon and very interested
06. the road-worn mendicant knight, banner- and badgeless, who camps just beyond the fallen one’s influence and never seems to break vigil

… but, oh! oh!

Does one shining chain shiver and falter …?