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Steve's D&D Campaign; Because it's probably hilarious!
Topic Started: Jul 28 2008, 09:05 PM (661 Views)
Ledaal Shinjo
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Ok Steve, the News & Updates thing has betrayed you, as it spilled the sordid tale of you DMing an AD&D campaign for the rest of your graveyard shift buddies. This thread is for you to tell us all about it, while Alex heckles you as revenge for all the times you made fun of HIM for playing D&D; he said you have no honor! :P:

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Tiir
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tri-li-lii!
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Y'know...at First I was feeling vindicated...but now....I'm feeling kinda envious.
Damn you D&D! double damn you AD&D!
triple damn you AD&D 4th edition! what your parkly wonders and delights do you offer?!
it's like heroin! I'll look at the book covers and buy them...they are the pen-ultimate sword-guy-in-fantasy-world....with babes-setting.
tra-la!
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Ledaal Shinjo
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The launch of 4th edition really intrigued me... I actually like that they realized WoW does D&D better then THEY DO, and adapted to that sort of playstyle I guess.

Fuck World of Darkness Online, I want an Exalted MMO....
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Heh, I'm not all that fond of 4th Edition's approach, to be honest... its a little bit more of a departure from the mechanics and basic design assumptions of previous editions than has been seen before. Its pretty much as if WW, when releasing the New World of Darkness, had swirtched the rules from Storyteller D10 to BESM tri-stat.

What WotC ought really have done here is been honest, said to Blizzard 'the current pen and paper WoW game is a poor-selling piece of drivel, we've got a game design here that replicates things much better and will make us oodles of money by combining both our market shares into one purchasing block. Give us the license and we'll be rich by Christmas'. As it stands, 4th has everything everyone hated about D&D before, and most of the things which keep roleplayers away from WoW, wrapped up in a pleasantly pretty package and inseperably tied to their line of fantasy miniatures. Erg.

Plus, for whatever reason, they decided to bump their Forgotten Realms setting by a century or so, causing all of RA Salvatore's characters to die of old age. Those are awful, awful, awful books, but Drizzt was nothing if not a cash cow. Doesnt make much sense to me, really. Office politics, perhaps... Gygax is dead, and a number of setting authors have been reduced to freelance contractor status over the past several years.
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Tiir
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JESUS that sounds HORRIBLE, I'm actually feeling bad for the D&D guys now..
tra-la!
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On the other hand, a lot of the material (Forgotten Realms particularly) had become bogged down by the tendency of its authors to fill it with the contents of their own home games or Mary Sue characters based on how awesome they wished they were. Fourth Edition's mechanics for magic dont really work with the existing setting material for Forgotten Realms, and perhaps once they started working on changing FR to fit the new ruleset, the managers at WotC decided to take advantage of the opportunity and purge the setting of masturbatory self-indulgence.

Still, the point of the Forgotten Realms, as opposed to Greyhawk or Eberron, was that it was a heavily developed world that continued to evolve... a bit like WW's old World of Darkness metaplot, each book in the line worth reading because the timeline had advanced a little bit further, locations were described in more detail, etc. Forgotten Realms kept the same background from appearance in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons through second and third editions, and the 3.5 update which could almost be considered an edition in its own right. Second edition saw some changes, primarily to races and monsters, and 3rd edition saw the geography adjusted so that certain remote islands were relocated so they were actually remote, rather than squeezed into the confines of a printable map, and shifting of NPC levels to take advantage of the new multiclassing mechanic, but ultimately things remained relatively constant: the gods continued their feuds, the kingdoms retained their character, and the like. Fourth edition Forgotten Realms makes significant changes to large swathes of that background... core 4th races such as the Dragonborn are retconned into prominence, the nature of magic as part of the Weave is replaced by 4th's 'personal power' approach, half of the divine pantheon is killed off and the rest are pushed from active meddling towards a more Eberron-style standoffish approach, and the nature of the world as a 14th-century analogue with developed trade routes and the social evolution such entails (such as transition from aristocratic rule to merchant rule, increasing urbanisation, growth of specialist and service labour, etc) has been eliminated in favour of a 'points of light' approach which demands small centers of civilization surrounded by wilderness and monsters (and thus restricts inter-kingdom trade, preserves dominance of feudal power structures, and prevents growth of wealth sufficient to move large numbers of peasants off the land and into city service jobs or light industries... this is probably the change that irks me the most, because it really does change the setting at its core, and that change will affect everything related to the Forgotten Realms from the backstory of characters to the availability of trail rations at wayside inns to the value of a gold piece). Magic has been toned down in a world where it has been the single most important force since the setting was first written, and the one thing I think would have been a good change, reducing the number of author-self-characters with uberawesome powers who saved the world from certain doom twice a year and overshadowed the accomplishments of the PCs (some even had specific rules such as 'no PC should fight this character because he is too powerful for players to defeat.') is the one thing they actually didnt change... they killed off the minor and unpopular cast of novel characters, but the all-powerful setting Mary-Sues (the Elminsters and Drizzts) continue on unfazed. In fact, they've added an entire category of new supermonsters with a 'cant be hurt by anyone under 20th level' as a standard mechanic. The 'Primordials' (*ahem*), ancient rulers of Abeir-Toril, who were separated from it and trapped in Abeir when the gods united to cast that realm away from Toril long ago, until recently they collided again, and now the ubercreatures are swimming about ruling continents.

But that's enough about that. Its a gamble... neither new nor old are perfect, and the new retains brand recognition to attract new players but risks alienating old ones. It may turn out like Windows XP, which was hands-down better than its predecessors and caused everyone to jump on board once they tried it out. Or it could be like Vista, which brought in new things for the sake of new things and saw most people decide to stick with their already-working OS. Time will tell.

In Fourth edition's favour, it does look like it works very well for spontaneous gaming... pick-ups at the local gaming store, or short campaigns during school lunch breaks like the lot of us used to run with Star Wars D6. The mechanics are rollplaying rather than roleplaying, but unlike WW's systems D&D has always left the social/conversation/political maneuvers aspect in the hands of the GM, and 4th has simply stripped the vestigial RP-related rules away. As someone who rather enjoys being a game master, I'm not too fond of the fact that it plays down the Golden Rule of GM fiat/discretion... its there, but discouraged. But for a player sitting down at an unknown table... an open game at a convention, a new group after moving to a new town, etc, it means that they dont have to worry about the personal qualities of the GM, and for those GMs who treat games like a competition to beat the players, the game is balanced enough to allow such an approach without being unfair to the players.

And WoW has ten million subscribers... I'd MMORPGify my pen & paper ruleset too for a piece of that market ^_^.

---

On the subject of my own campaign, perhaps a bit of a character overview here... the party is a awful chaotic/neutral gaggle.

Mordred Dhu (human male NE dread necromancer 3). Creepy young fellow whose village/family were slain by crusading paladins seeking to overthrow the region's necromancer-overlord. Wants to become a lich.
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Firuga Eludra (sun elf female CN duskblade 3). Racist ex-noble whose kingdom surrendered to goblins despite her objections.
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Zoland Arryn (half-drow male CN swordsage 2 fighter 1). Lost soul seeking to find his place in the world. Has decided the best way to do so is by killing things and stealing stuff.
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Alton Greyforge (dwarf male TN warblade 3). Greedy mercenary from a family of greedy blacksmiths. Wants gold. Lots and lots of gold.
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Xeno (air gensai male CN [humanoid 1] rogue 1 sorcerer 1). Kidnapped by travelling gensai entertainer-thieves, then abandoned by them when he manifested sorcerous powers. Wants to increase his magical might, and gather loyal minion-companions along the way.
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---

Finally, to finish off, some D&D related humour.

Farador
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Ledaal Shinjo
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That video taught me that French people are scary. The song at the end is precious!

So you've set the stage; the dramatis personae is revealed. What sort of hell are you putting them through?
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Heh, might as well post up session summaries to give an idea of what's what... the introduction ought be familiar to those who have played through Neverwinter Nights, as our first timer had played it and so we opted to start on somewhat familiar ground. Its also been edited a bit from the original, as the bastards pushed for a prequel session and then used it to avoid the start of the campaign...

DM
 
-Introduction-

Tension has long festered in the cold of the North. Luskan, City of Sails, has always maintained an armed rivalry with Neverwinter, so-called 'Jewel of the North' and its neighbour to to south... Neverwinter in turn has pushed the Lords' Alliance, a pact of Northern princelings led by the rulers of Waterdeep, to counter Luskan efforts to expand their influence over neighbouring settlements. For years, neither side had the stomach to finally resolve such rivalries through war, until now.

Plague struck Neverwinter, its unnaturally warm climate granting foothold to a danger rarely encountered amidst Northern ice and snow. The weakness of their rival prompted Luskan to finally act, taking advantage and mustering its armies for battle, though the debate over that decision cost the life of at least one of the cityís High Captains. Luskan, led by its Arcane Brotherhood, opened its coffers to gather mercenary forces to its banner, and hundreds answered the call, while agreements were struck with nearby orcish tribes and Uthgardt barbarians to bolster this army into a significant force.

The army of Luskan advanced along the southern road, smashing through the defending forces of the Lordís Alliance. With Waterdeepís own forces held back to deal with domestic troubles, Port Llast fell within the first weeks of the conflict, and it was not long before Luskan war machines were being constructed outside the gates of Neverwinter itself.

It took the Luskan army two weeks of skirmishes and bombardment to breach Neverwinterís walls, but this feat was achieved as Leafall became the month of Uktar, the mages of the Arcane Brotherhood expending their energies in a destructive torrent which smashed through the warded stone of the city's northern wall and allowed the besiegers to pour into the streets. The fighting grew even more bloody once the two armies clashed within, Luskan troops advancing street-by-street until they surrounded Castle Never, where Neverwinter's ruler Lord Nasher gathered for a final stand, refusing to fall while pockets of resistance harrased Luskanite troops across the city.

You, and the other members of your party, are participants in this conflict, mercenaries hired by Luskan to join its battle with Neverwinter. The pay is good, the opportunities for profitable looting were plentiful, and success seemed, at least early on, to be easily achieved. You are employed by the Company of the Burning Sun, a mercenary band under leadership of the fire genasi Rhengost Algarath, known for both good payouts and a loose hand when it comes to methods and treasures... keep what you find and do what you will, so long as the job is done. You fought together at Port Llast, where you were part of a flanking effort to take the ridges south of the town, and during the siege of Neverwinter, where you were sent to counter Neverwinter sallies against the Luskan catapults.

Now, you are within the city walls, ordered to meet with Captain Bengol of the Luskan army outside the Chapel of Lathander near the city's river docks. The Chapel has so far resisted bombardment and assault, and risks being a thorn in the side of the invaders while they try to concentrate on breaking into Castle Never. Wishing the matter resolved with haste, the Luskans passed the task to the Burning Sun, and Algarath assigned you to the task.

You now stand in the burning streets of Neverwinter, the Chapel rising before you...


DM
 
-August 2nd, 2008-
(Prelude: Dawn at Sunset) Neverwinter burns, a temple of Lathander is besieged with catapults, Mordred proves to be the best combat character in the Party, and we learn that its really nice to have a whiteboard mat for combat mapping.


DM
 
-August 3rd, 2008-
(Prelude: Dawn at Sunset) The Neverwinter militia learns that hiding behind doors only makes it easier to be killed off all at once, Zoland snatches up all the loot, and Alton meets the paladin.

Treasure:
Zoland - 26gp


DM
 
-August 4th, 2008-
(Prelude: Dawn at Sunset) Firuga sets the paladin's loins aflame, Zoland and Xeno kill some wounded militiamen who can't see, and a Neverwinter captain bursts into the fray.


DM
 
-August 10th, 2008-
(Prelude: Dawn at Sunset) A paladin falls, hostages are taken, a cleric is negatively charged, and the lone survivor cowers terrified in a corner. The mission at the Chapel of Lathander in Neverwinter is complete, and there is much looting.
Two chests remain unopened: one in the cleric's bedchamber and one (a steel strongbox with a complex lock) in the chapel 'vault'. One cowering Neverwinter soldier, surrendered and disarmed, remains alive, and the Luskan catapults continue to bombard the chapel.

XP
Zoland - 1282
Mordred - 1227
Alton - 1202
Firuga - 1202
Xeno - 1282

Treasure
Zoland - 10pp, 1361gp, 205sp.
Mordred - leather bag (containing several small fingerbones), scroll with Neverwinter payroll information, scroll with Neverwinter orders, locked lead box (with key) containing a severed hand, 10pp, 1361gp, 205sp.
Alton - 10pp, 1361gp, 205sp.
Firuga - 10pp, 1361gp, 205sp.
Xeno - 8 spare shortbow strings, 10pp, 1361gp, 205sp.

Body Count
Zoland - 7 Neverwinter militia, 1 injured Neverwinter militia.
Mordred - 2 Neverwinter militia, 1 Neverwinter captain (Thorn Borrelson [Fighter 5]), 1 Cleric of Lathander (Melevin Alavil [Cleric 4]).
Alton - 6 Neverwinter militia, 1 Paladin of Lathander (Alimorn Rothscheed [Paladin 5]).
Firuga - 3 Neverwinter militia.
Xeno - 1 Neverwinter militia, 1 injured Neverwinter militia.

Absent Players
Firuga - Firuga reverted to NPC status due to player absence. During this time, she cast her fiery cone on some NPC soldiers, and took 6hp damage from a well-placed arrow.


DM
 
-August 11th, 2008-
(Prelude: Dawn at Sunset) The treasure is divided, loot is sold, Xeno gains a human pack-mule, Zoland learns that attempting to rip off the greedy dwarf leads to those little hands reaching uncomfortable places, and Firuga attempts to warn the Luskan high command of their impending doom while Mordred plays with his new severed hand. People go shopping.
Posted Image

XP
Zoland - 25
Mordred - 50
Alton - 25
Firuga - 125
Xeno - 50


DM
 
-August 17th, 2008-
Xeno ferrets out rumours, Zoland and Firuga laze about the tent (until the latter decides to supplement the coffers of her righteous goblin-ousting army through looting a burning city), Mordred proves open to travel suggestions from the severed hand. The party decides not to be around when the Waterdavians show up, and heads for the barred south gates. Zoland proves to be a very convincing fellow, and soon everyone is riding off upriver towards Neverwinter Wood.

XP
Zoland - 250
Mordred - 50
Alton - 25
Firuga - 113
Xeno - 100

Body Count
Firuga - 1 Neverwinter militia.

Treasure
Firuga - 5 bottles fine wine (Amn), 1 bottle fine Elven wine (Evreska).
Xeno - Luskan orders bearing the seal of High Captain Kurth.


DM
 
-August 18th, 2008-
The party continues east along the banks of the River Never. A deserted homestead is looted for the food everyone forgot to pack when they left, and Mordred is not pushed down the well.

XP
Zoland - 75
Mordred - 25
Alton - 35
Firuga - 25
Xeno - 25

Treasure
Unclaimed - 1 bag of flour (2lb), 8 bales of hay (20lb each), 5 sacks of potatos (2lb each), 4 sacks of turnips (2lb each), 2 sacks of carrots (2lb each), 1 winter blanket, 1 pitchfork, 2cp.
Zoland - 1cp.

Absent Players
Alton - Alton reverted to NPC status due to player absence. During this time, he bashed down a door.


DM
 
-August 20th, 2008-
The party's flight eastward is halted by an encounter with the chaos-loathing guards of Helm's Hold. An out-of-place pitchfork amidst the carriage cargo raises eyebrows amongst both Helmites and the party members. A good night's sleep is followed by Helmite questioning as to the layout and disposition of Luskan forces in Neverwinter, in which Mordred and Alton decline to participate. The arrival of a Waterdavian messenger at the Hold is revealed, and Xeno's Neverwinter henchman is interrogated seperately before everyone is returned to the guest hostel.†

XP
Zoland - 25
Mordred - 100
Alton - 100
Firuga - 100
Xeno - 100

Absent Players
Zoland - Zoland reverted to NPC status due to player absence. During this time, he got a nice bit of rest and healed his last missing hit point.


DM
 
-August 26th, 2008-
Leaving Helm's Hold, the party sees the Helmites talking with a Waterdavian messenger, who wants to have them arrested. True to their oath, the Helmites do not accede to the demand, and advise the party that venturing too far south into Lord's Alliance territory will risk encounters with patrols from Waterdeep. News of their attack on the Chapel has apparently spread, and Lathander's Church is pushing for their capture.

After a day's travel along the track leading east from Helm's Hold into Neverwinter Wood, the party camps at a recently-abandoned logging camp, using its buildings for shelter and then spending the morning scrounging around for loot. Not much has been left behind, save for the contents of a shack which does not look to have been abandoned with the rest, and whose lock is of finer make.

The trek eastward becomes more difficult, and with no track to follow the carriage slows to a crawl. Thankfully, after seven-and-a-half days of travel, the party emerges from the Wood into open farmland, without ever having noticed the unmentionable horrors stalking them.

Dawn reveals a cluster of houses, visible on the eastern horizon, and the journey to them is a speedy one compared to the snail's pace of forest travel. The village of Conyberry is miniscule, offering a veterinarian (visited by Firuga to check the health of her horses, for a total cost of 10cp), a blacksmith (visited by no-one), and a 'Hall' which appears to be a roof and two walls and passes for both inn and tavern in the hamlet... some of the villagers apparently brew their own alcohol, which according to a friendly peasant is 'quite good'.

The party has eaten its way through the rations and foodstuffs looted from both farm and logging camp (and the horses through the hay and carrots), and takes on more supplies at Conyberry before continuing eastward in the afternoon (trail rations cost 4sp per day and weigh 1lb, horse feed costs 5cp per day and weighs 10lb. Jugs of homebrewed beer are available for 2cp, and jugs of 'firebeer' (beer which has apparently been supplemented using wood alcohol) are available for 5cp. I'll leave it up to you how much you want to purchase, so long as you decide by next session, though keep in mind that it took you almost a tenday to make it through Neverwinter Wood, and you're continuing onward off-road with no knowledge of when you'll next get to resupply).

The party travels onward for three more days, but the rise of the sun on the fourth day reveals the worrying sight of men advancing across the open fields to the north and northeast, attempting to intercept the carriage. As they come closer, it became apparent that there are some twenty of them, swordsmen and archers in irregular dress rather than the tabards of an organized military. With the carriage too slow to escape, the party prepares itself for a fight.

XP
Zoland - 25
Mordred - 75
Alton - 100
Firuga - 75
Xeno - 100

Treasure
Unclaimed - rations (all eaten since then), 20 arrows.
Alton - 1 pillow.


DM
 
-September 3rd, 2008-
Mordred, deciding that the intentions of the approaching mob are not going to be honourable, opens negotiations with a crossbow bolt to the face. The attackers are quickly reduced in number by successive bursts of magical energy accompanied by whirling, flaming chains and a large axe. Mordred's hireling demonstrates that it is indeed possible to crush a man's windpipe with a wooden stick, while Xeno's minion does not, as seems to have been expected, display years of monk-learnin' in unarmed combat, and instead hides under the carriage.

The large half-orc leading the band of bandits attempts to obtain a surrender by using the threat of numbers, an assertion which would be more convincing were it not punctuated by the constant death-screams of his fellows, and his not-negligible combat prowess pales in comparison to the dwarf who knows magic-anime-kungfu. At last, convinced by casualties, he and his remaining handful look to make a retreat, following in the footsteps of the gang's last surviving ranged combatant, who left earlier after seeing the writing on the wall (or rather the charred corpses of her fellow archers on the ground).

XP, Body Count, Treasure, etc.
[pending completion of encounter]

Absent Players
Zoland - Zoland reverted to NPC status due to player absence. During this time he made his glorious Swordsage debut, a nimbus of shadows hiding his form as he dashed forward to strike down his foes with a burning length of spiked chain, or toss them through the air as he sought room to strike fresh waves of attackers. He is currently undamaged, but has expended all of his maneuvers, and he continues to employ his Shadow Hand stance to gain Concealment. His initiative roll totalled 15, a surprisingly poor showing but still above that of the surrounding NPCs.
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DM
 
-September 7, 2008-

The last of the bandits are laid low, and Firuga rounds up those trying to flee, hauling them back in chains (well, silk ropes, really...). The two prisoners are interrogated, revealing a bit of local geography to the otherwise-ignorant party... their camp is a little bit to the north, and the natural lookout point known as Berun's Hill further northward from there. The Long Road connecting Waterdeep and Mirabar lies to the east, and beyond that the river Surbrin, while the nearest town is Longsaddle, found to the northeast. The fields north, south, and east are home to ranchers and their herds of cattle.

The party recalls, from their time in the Luskan army, that Longsaddle is a member of the Lord's Alliance.

Feeling well educated, the party heads north to loot the bandit camp, finding an unusual number of shovels amongst otherwise-basic supplies. These (and conscripted prisoner labour) are used to unearth a pair of strongboxes containing bandit loot, including a ring Alton recognizes as a relic of the fallen dwarf empire known as Delzoun (the waraxe carried by the bandit leader seems of similar source), though he is dissapointed that neither one appears magical.

Looting completed, the party heads eastward once more, until their journey is derailed by an encounter with a tree stump. The debate over the fate of the stump continues as the sun vanishes over the horizon and darkness falls.

XP
Zoland - 1055
Mordred - 1055
Alton - 1055
Firuga - 1055
Xeno - 1055
Otto - ?
Hulbert - ?

Body Count
Zoland - 1 bandit armsman.
Mordred - 1 bandit archer, 3 bandit armsmen.
Firuga - 2 bandit archers, 5 bandit armsmen.
Xeno - 1 bandit archer, 1 bandit armsman.
Otto - 1 bandit spearman.

Treasure
Unclaimed - 1 shortbow, silver ring (10gp value), 3 suits leather armour, 7 heavy wooden shields, 3 longswords, 2 battleaxes, 1 longspear, 1 heavy mace, 1 scimitar, 1 warhammer, 4 torches, 6 days trail rations, 2 waterskins (empty), 2 waterskins (common wine), 1 waterskin (water), 1 sewing needle, 1 hunk of cheese, 1 winter blankets, 2 flasks (spirits), 1 flask (water), 10 bedrolls, 2 tents, 10 spades, 1pp, 1 bandit archer (prisoner), 1 bandit spearman (prisoner).
Zoland - 30gp, 73sp.
Mordred - 30gp, 73sp.
Alton - 1 masterwork dwarf waraxe, 1 masterwork dwarf ring (gold), 30gp, 73sp.
Firuga - 30gp, 73sp.
Xeno - 1 suit studded leather armour (given to Hulbert), 1 longsword (given to Hulbert), 1 shortbow (given to Hulbert), 34 arrows (given to Hulbert), 30gp, 73sp.


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DM
 
-September 8th, 2008-

The party finally decides that the best solution to the perplexing question of the stump is to make camp next to it and light it on fire. A watch schedule is drawn up, with Zoland skipping sleep to serve double sentry duty and keep an eye on the dwarf. Late into the night, the stump-fuelled bonfire attracts a patrol of horsemen from a nearby ranch, who question the party about its purpose and advise heading northeast to reach Longsaddle while avoiding passage through their cattle herds. Though they eventually leave, it becomes obvious that they have doubled back to follow the party through the following day, until Zoland confronts them and scares them off. His direct approach does nothing to dispel their impression that the party is in fact a band of Zhent slavers trying to sneak through the region.

Reaching the road, the going becomes much easier for the carriage, and good time is made on the journey southward. Firuga takes advantage of the travel time to find out the names of her bandit prisoners, along with their marketable skills ('Bara' claims to be a capable archer and skilled scout, while 'Merlin' identifies himself as the best spearman amongst the bandits and a former huntsman). Seemingly pleased with her catch, the elven princess promptly offers both former brigands employment and begins budgeting to equip them with new weapons and armour.

Soon, the town of Triboar appears, a caravan stopover with supplies for merchants moving along the Long Road up from Waterdeep, and a member of the Lord's Alliance. Mordred notes a small shrine to Lathander in the town, and immediately begins planning its destruction. The remaining loot is sold off for liquid assets, and various party members wander about searching for accomodations... Alton plays footman to Firuga's princess and Mordred's (magically disguised) nobleman and arranges rooms and stabling at Everwyvern House, Triboar's most expensive inn. Zoland attempts entry but is told to leave by the intolerant Everwyvern bouncers, and after refusing is tossed out into the street with the assistance of Alton, making quite a scene in the process. Undeterred, the half-drow begins looking about for a good spot to try and climb the inn's stone walls so as to enter through a window. Meanwhile, Xeno flits about listening to tavern tales and idle chatter, gathering information.

Xeno's Gather Information attempt:
Roll is 12 (9 + 3). Duration is 3 hours. Some general information is uncovered.
- Triboar Guides: Triboar is known for being home to several skilled local guides, well-versed in the routes and rules of Northern travel. They can usually be found staying at the Frost-Touched Fog inn, and charge 7-8gp per day for their services. Each guide has a bit of a reputation... 'Zandever' is greedy, 'Borth' is crazy, 'Morth' is strange, and 'Ilrin' is suspected of consorting with drow.

- Triboar-Yartar rivalry: The people of Triboar have nothing good to say about Yartar, a settlement located to the east across the Dessarin and which serves as a competing caravan stopover. Though both are nominally members of the Lord's Alliance, skirmishes have been fought in the past and 'bandit' raids on local caravans are thought to be the work of Yartaris. The leader of Yartar was deposed by the Lord's Alliance last year, accused of dealings with criminal organisations, and the people of Triboar seem to think the replacement appointed by the Alliance, a paladin from Neverwinter, will keep Yartar in line.

- Luskan Criminals: Though the Lord's Alliance, led by troops of Waterdeep, has routed the armies of Luskan from Neverwinter and sent them fleeing northward in disarray, many in Triboar seem concerned about groups of Luskans fleeing eastward. Uthgardt barbarians based out of the lands just east of Longsaddle are mentioned, but of greater note are five brigands identified by a bill posted this morning at Lathander's shrine. Some residents apologize to Xeno for initial looks of suspicion as they chat, as one of those sought by Lathander's clergy is said to have blood chilled by the touch of the Planes. The leader of the wanted band, it seems, is a drow, and his other companinons include a dwarf, a sun-elf sorceress, and a wizened necromancer. A reward has been offered, and given the wealth of the Lathanderites, it is thought to be significant.


XP
[pending]

Treasure
Zoland - 37gp, 7sp, 1cp.
Mordred - 37gp, 7sp, 1cp.
Alton - 37gp, 7sp, 1cp.
Firuga - 1pp, 20gp, 7sp, 1cp.
Xeno - 1gp, 7sp, 1cp.


DM
 
-September 10th, 2008-

The party sets about preparing for the next leg of their journey eastward, purchasing supplies and inquiring about the various trade routes passing through the region. The best option seems to travel south to Ironford, crossing the Dessarin there and following the eastern path south of the High Forest.

Firuga discovers the reason it isn't a good idea to hire captured bandits you've known for a week on as staff, and her two new henchmen vanish overnight, unnoticed by a snoring Alton, taking the Elven princess' horses with them. Her replacement conveyance, a canvas-covered wagon drawn by horses lacking finery such as saddles or faux-dragonskin barding, will have to do as a substitute.

Mordred continues to investigate the local shrine of Lathander, discovering a posted bill offering monetary rewards from Lathander's clergy for apprehension of the party, though the descriptions are somewhat inaccurate. This gives the party an idea for carrying out the attack Mordred is determined to make upon the shrine, and preparations are undertaken (with the help of Otto) to come up with costumes that will match the impressions of the misinformed Lathanderites... hooded cloak for Zoland, leather boot-and-bustier set for Firuga, fake horns for Xeno, dirt (and unintelligible battlecries) for Alton, and a magic hat-provided lich disguise for Mordred.

The party bursts into the shrine two hours before dawn, interrupting the local cleric as he meets with a Church messenger. Both are cut down, decapitated by Mordred as the others quickly loot the shrine in search of valuables. The headless corpses of the Lathanderites are used to smash the temple's prized east-facing stained glass window, and the party flees the scene to rejoin their wagons (kept a good distance away under Otto's watchful eye so, the sensibilities of Hulbert and the new-hired driver are not offended by the sight of their employers vandalizing religious institutions).

As Triboar begins to wake, and worshippers of Lathander start making their way to their usual morning mass, the party departs along the Long Road southward, at great speed.

XP
[including xp from previous session. Current character totals provided in parentheses].
Zoland - 118 (6030)
Mordred - 209 (5991)
Alton - 184 (5926)
Firuga - 159 (6079)
Xeno - 123 (6050)Ā@

Body Count
Zoland - 1 Lathanderite maceman.
Alton - 1 Cleric of Lathander [Cleric 2].

Treasure
Unclaimed - 42 sunrods, winter blanket, pillow, morningstar, masterwork morningstar (with Lathanderite decoration), 3 wanted posters, scroll of Cure Light Wounds, bloody papers (found in the robes of the cleric), 4 flasks of holy water, 1 light horse (white, with dawnburst-decorated riding saddle, bit & bridle, and saddlebag containing 6 days trail rations, 1 wanted poster, and 3 letters sealed with gold-coloured wax dawnbursts).
Zoland - 120gp, 6sp, 3cp.
Mordred - 120gp, 6sp, 3cp.
Alton - 120gp, 6sp, 3cp.
Firuga - 120gp, 6sp, 3cp.
Xeno - 120gp, 6sp, 3cp.

Absent Players
Zoland - Zoland employed his Shadow Hand stance and prowess with a fighting chain to slaughter a Lathanderite messenger.
Xeno - Xeno unleashed two magic missiles into said messenger, while remaining safely sheltered behind the dread necromancer.

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-September 14th, 2008-
The party proceeds at full speed southward along the Long Road, heading for Ironford and the track linking east with Zhentarim trade routes. The journey is uneventful for the better part of a day, until late afternoon brings the sight of a merchant caravan heading northward along the road. As the session ended, Zoland (in the lead on horseback) and the carriage occupants (Mordred, and Xeno, with Otto as driver and Alton riding beside him) were thinking about, and starting to discuss, wether or not to massacre the merchants and take their stuff.
In the wagon taking up the rear, Hulbert and the new hireling driver (as well as Firuga sleeping in the back) are blissfully unaware of their companion's plans.

XP:
Zoland - 5
Mordred - 5
Alton - 5
Firuga - 5
Xeno - 5

Treasure:
[None, but an update on the treasure taken from Lathander's shrine. Firuga took the horse, along with bridle and saddlebags, abandoning the Lathander-marked saddle, as well as the bottles of holy water. Xeno took the scroll of cure light wounds, and performed some minor cleaning magic to render the blood-spattered note legible, giving the party access to a total of 4 Lathanderite missives along with a copy of the Wanted poster, which appears to be printed using movable type and then stamped. Given the need for a speedy getaway, you probably wouldnít have gotten away with more than a dozen sunrods].


DM
 
-September 15th & 16th, 2008-

The party decides against drive-by-spiked-chaining of random merchant caravans, and continues its journey for some distance, through the fields parallel with the Long Road. As they progress southward, Mordred's pet severed hand begins pointing slightly (but noticeably) northeast. Camp is made outside the town of Red Larch, and the air genasi is sent in to buy supplies for the Drow. He manages to avoid arrest by the local militia, who are out in force, and decides not to risk seeing if the local mages have any hats worth stealing. Able to purchase only crumblecakes, a local dish of herbs and mashed chickpeas, Xeno eventually returns to the party and their journey continues.

That journey is not a pleasant one... due to his easily-recognizeable features, the party is forced to let Zoland ride in the shelter of the carriage, and the drow's all-chickpea diet combined with poor personal hygeine produce a unique and horrible odour. Still, the five manage to make good time, bluffing their way past a horse patrol out of Triboar and a checkpoint manned by Paladins of Chauntea through a ruse painting themselves as an eccentric-but-wealthy merchant from Waterdeep (Zoland, wearing Mordred's Hat of Disguise) and his entourage of lackeys.

As they cross the Ironford bridge, snow begins to fall, quickly proving a far greater foe than the soldiers of the Lords' Alliance. The tiny hamlet of Uluvin offers an opportunity to resupply, a chance Zoland uses to exchange his crumblecakes for the less-fragrant blandness of basic trail rations. With Secomber seemingly only a short distance onward, the party pushes east once more despite the buildup of snow upon the roads, and soon their horses and wagons struggle to pass through a layer of snow several feet deep, eventually slowing their travel to a mere five miles each day and causing their horses much suffering due to the cold.

A month after setting out from Uluvin, the party at last stumbles into Secomber, snow thicker than ever on the ground. The dwarf suggests that, perhaps, they ought think about waiting out the season before continuing onward, and the party begins looking about the town for something to do in the several months it will take before the snow begins to melt.

XP:
Zoland - 350
Mordred - 350
Alton - 400
Firuga - 350
Xeno - 350


DM
 
-September 17th, 2008-

Hammer 1 to Ches 30 1374DR.
Snowed-in at Secomber, the party attempts to find a way to pass the three boring months which remain in the long northern winter. With the temperature dropping low enough to freeze flesh during the night, and no food on the ground for foraging, there seems little choice but to find accomodations at the local inn despite its inflated winter prices.
Alton finds work amongst the town's resident dwarves, a family operating the local smithy. His skills far exceed the requirements of the forge for nails, horseshoes, and agricultural implements, but the work pays enough to cover room & board at the inn. Xeno practices his bardic talents for coin, a potentially profitable endeavour should he prove able to best the two professional bards residing in the town. Zoland, now disguised as a half-elf using Mordred's hat, takes on employment as a member of the local militia for 3sp a night plus a floor to sleep on in the guard tower and a bowl of coarse gruel once daily. He is assigned to Secomber's most remote guard post, across the Unicorn Run from the main township and bearing the full brunt of the cold winds blowing in across the High Moor. 

A caravan of Thayan wizards is also trapped in Secomber by winter weather, prevented from continuing their journey down the Delimbyr to Waterdeep. They have a small number of magic items for sale, and the party quickly snatches up several items which will help reduce their difficulties finding supplies. (Alton purchases an Everlasting Rations pouch and Zoland buys a Field Provisions Box). Xeno commisions the Thayans to produce a second Field Provisions Box, and Firuga (deciding common labour to be beneath her station) seeks out a more direct infusion of cash by allowing the Red Wizards to drain her mind as they create the Box.

Amidst the winter drudgery comes one moment of excitement: on the 20th day of Ches, the militia asks Zoland to investigate an underground chamber for signs of gargoyles. This is apparently a regular occurence, and the Lords' Alliance garrison has a budget for hiring adventurers to assist with such events, offering Zoland and his companions 25 gold to investigate and another 100 gold in the event they actually slay a gargoyle. Zoland informs the dwarf and the air gensai, who then informs the necromancer. Having developed a sudden hatred for the Elven princess, Zoland refuses to invite Firuga unless she promises not to 'be a bitch'. The exchange that follows is not a pleasant one, and the predictable result is that the Duskblade does not join her travelling companions on their mission. Mordred too is left behind, as he lacks biological means to see in lightless dungeons.

The predictable encounter with a gargoyle unfolds as one might expect... though the beast attacks ferociously and resists a hail of blows, the combined onslaught of the three investigators overcomes it before any become overly injured. The three then search the room, failing to locate anything of interest save for an arcane circle that remains, in faded paint, upon the floor, and a collapsed tunnel leading further underground.

Summary of costs for overwintering in Secomber
[don't forget that salaries and accomodation/food costs must also be paid for Hulbert (Xeno), Otto (Mordred), and the driver (Firuga)].
- Rooming at the Inn: 90gp. Characters may instead attept to subsist outside, but this will require them to make a Fortitude check once every hour (once per day if sheltered by a carriage or wagon), at DC 15 + 1 per additional check (so the first check is DC15, the last is DC2159 (104 if in wagon shelter)), taking 1d6 nonlethal frostbite damage per failed check. Cold weather clothes give a +4 bonus to this check, tents +2, winter blankets +4). 
- Food: 108sp (cheapest possible, root stew at the tavern 3 times daily)/ 189gp (cheese & bread supplied to one's inn room, means one can avoid journeying through the cold across the street)/ 0 (for those who have their own ration supplies or a magical source of food. Note that the food produced from everlasting ration devices is determined by the caster/artifact creator, and thus in the case of artifacts from the Thayans consists of salted wheat cakes and cubes of sweet-spiced lamb jerky, whose flavours are rendered rather bland due to the limitations of the magic, and which rot rapidly into dust as soon as the artifact in question produces a new round of foodstuffs (i.e. within 24 hours)).
- Stabling (for horses): Free for inn guests, 54gp for non-guests. Not stabling horses will require them to make a Fortitude check once every hour at DC 15 + 1 per check (so the first check is DC15, the last is DC2159), taking 1d6 frostbite damage per failed check. Horse blankets give a +4 bonus to this check. 

XP:
Zoland - 225
Mordred - 25
Alton - 250
Firuga - 150
Xeno - 250

Body Count:
Alton - 1 gargoyle.

Treasure:
[Already distributed... Alton & Xeno each recieved 215gp, and Zoland paid them his share plus 55gp to take two garnet gemstones estimated by Alton to be worth 90gp each). Firuga earned 200gp from selling 40 experience points. Alton spent 350gp on Thayan goods, Zoland spent 2000gp, and Xeno spent 2200gp].

Absent Players
Mordred- Quite a bit of time has passed, if rather uneventfully. We'll need to figure out just what Mordred was doing during that time (not too much demand for necromancers in small-town Faerun).
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-September 21st, 2008-

Tarsakh 1 to Tarsakh 14 1374DR.
The party sets out from Secomber as the snow melts away from the road eastward, travelling along muddy roads following rivers filled to overflowing by the thaw. Passage through the small town of Zelbross is uneventful, but passage over the fortified toll bridge at Buttelton sees significantly more activity: after being told to halt and warned with a crossbow bolt sent over his head, Zoland charges the bridge, shrugging off crossbow bolts and clambering up a wall to squeeze through an unfortunately -placed trapdoor. The plate-armoured guard waiting there is then shoved down through the trapdoor and beaten about the head with a flaming spiked chain of shadow while his buttocks are assaulted with negative energy sent forth by the dread necromancer. Despite the guard's surprising durability, he eventually succumbs to the onslaught and dies, after which Zoland loots the tower and starts making plans to perpetrate genocide on the rest of the township. The elven princess refuses outright to participate in the massacre, and the rest eventually convince the half-drow that killing every living thing he meets is not the best approach to take.
The party moves on, crossing the Stoneshoulder Bridge into Loudwater and heading straight through the town, pausing only to split up. The Elven princess and the half-drow (disguised as a sun elf with Mordred's hat) use sun elf arrogance to bluff their way out the eastern gate, and Alton uses scathing wit to do the same for Mordred's carriage. The air gensai waits until a break in the guard rotation and dives through the wall of trees marking the town boundary, before picking out uncomfortably-placed thorns as he hurries to catch up with his companions.

XP:
Zoland - 150
Mordred - 150
Alton - 175
Firuga - 125
Xeno - 100

Body Count:
Zoland - Mayor Ichabod Buttel (Fighter 3).

Treasure:
Zoland - 100gp, 250sp, masterwork full plate, masterwork longsword, heavy steel shield with Lords' Alliance heraldry,†
Mordred - 100gp, 250sp, heavy crossbow, 100 bolts, wanted poster for the party from the Church of Lathander, wanted poster from the Lord Mayor of Westbridge for a rapist preying on young boys, wanted poster from the Waterdeep constabluary for a rogue who defrauded old ladies of their life savings, letter from Lords' Alliance (Waterdeep) dated Tarsakh 30 1373 indicating that the Lord's Alliance has no plans to purge the undead presence from the Dire Wood, letter from Lords' Alliance (Waterdeep) dated Flamerule 19 1373 indicating that the Lord's Alliance has no plans to hunt the green dragon making its lair in the South Wood, letter from Lords' Alliance (Waterdeep) dated Uktar 4 1373 indicating that the Lord's Alliance has no plans to oust the Zhentarim from Llorkh in a spring campaign,† letter to the Lords' Alliance (Waterdeep) from 'Lord Mayor Ichabod Rinthan Buttel the Fifth' dated Ches 1 1373 offering to lead an army against the Host Tower of the Arcane to stamp them out once and for all, map detailing defenses of Buttelton in an exaggerated fashion.
Xeno - Heavy crossbow.

Salaries:
[Paid out to NPC hirelings up until this point].
Firuga - Driver 99sp.
Mordred - Otto 985sp
Xeno - Hulbert 386sp.


The above session actually took place over burgers and fries at a local restaurant. How come you guys never took your GM out for game-lunches?

DM
 
-September 22, 2008-

Tarsakh 14 to Tarsakh 27 1374DR.
The party makes good time out of Loudwater despite muddy roads and a constant drizzling rain. Four days out, they confront their first major obstacle: one of the minor rivers feeding into the Greyflow from the nearby mountains has grown with the melting snow, making passage over the ford there difficult. Various schemes are considered, until Mordred decides to summon up a pair of skeletal owlbears, who pick up his carriage and carry the whole thing across to the other side. Once the ford has been crossed, the group is confronted by a quintet of riders in purple cloaks, identifying themselves as Lord's Men of Llorkh. They offer an escort to Llorkh, which is accepted, and the journey is resumed, chatter indicating that the men are Zhents with little love for the Lords' Alliance.
Four more days into the journey, after crossing a second flooded ford using dead-owlbear-porters, an attack on the group is announced by a trio of crossbow bolts knocking the leader of their Zhent escort from his horse. Despite this impresive start, the bandits launching the attack do not fare well once the party leaps into the fray, despite the presence of a magic user (who, after guesses ranging from 'wizard' to 'monk', is identified by Mordred as a cleric of Bane). The loot gathered in the aftermath is of oddly generic make, and none of the bandits carry any coinage. The Zhents seem uncertain exactly who might have sought to attack them (Zoland senses them to be honest in this statement), but display a distaste for the followers of Bane equal to their dislike of the Lords' Alliance.

The remaining five days of the journey are uneventful save for a few jaunts by ferry across the Greyflow, which seems equally engorged with the runoff from melting mountain snow. At last, they arrive in Llorkh, and immediately seek to unload the loot taken from Buttelton & the slain bandits as well as purchase magic items and seek passage across the Anauroch with a departing caravan. The Zhents are happy to oblige. A caravan is located, departing in a tenday along the Black Road: the party may accompany them for a fee of 25gp per person, and will have use of the Zhent oases along the way, but must supply its own food and animals, and assist in its own defense.

XP:
Zoland - 266
Mordred - 341
Alton - 266
Firuga - 266
Xeno - 266

Body Count:
Zoland - 2 bandit crossbowmen.
Mordred - 1 bandit armsman.
Alton - 1 bandit cleric (Cleric of Bane 3), 2 bandit armsmen, 1 bandit crossbowman.
Xeno - 1 bandit crossbowman.

Treasure:
Zoland - 432gp.
Mordred - 432gp.
Alton - 432gp.
Firuga - 107gp.
Xeno - 107gp.

Absent Players
Xeno- Xeno fired his magic missile twice, and killed a wounded crossbowman.


DM
 
-September 23rd, 2008-

Tarsakh 28 1374DR.
As caravan travel is arranged and loot sold, Zoland secures accomodations for himself. Overwhelmed once more by feelings of dislike for the sun elf, the half-drow rents out all of the town's available luxury suites (3), keeping one for himself and granting one to Alton and one to Mordred, on condition that Firuga is not allowed into them. Zoland then secures himself a disguise kit.

Waiting until midnight, Zoland uses his new kit to form a passable human disguise (13) and sneaks out of the tavern (his departure overheard by Alton) in search of victims from whom he can recoup his housing expenses. The town is not a fertile ground for such work... frequent patrols and the expectation of unsavory characters amongst the townsfolk mean that opportunities for mugging are few and far between. Eventually, he spots two Lord's Men staggering homeward from a night at the tavern, and greets them with sleep-poison-tipped bolts from his hand crossbow. The intoxicated guardsmen tumble to the ground, shouting incoherently, as the first bolt connects, but two more shots go wild and Zoland flees as the drunken shouts are joined by shouting from more sober street patrols.

Meanwhile, back at the inn, Alton wakes Mordred to inform him of Zoland's departure. Mordred doesn't care, and goes back to sleep. Zoland soon returns to his inn room undetected by the guards, though his return is noted by Alton. Outside, the guards can be heard searching for a 'Harper spy'.

Unsatisfied, Zoland decides to have another go, and uses his disguise kit to create a new appearance, this time that of a sun elf (6). Unfortunately for the half-drow, there is no one around to tell him that his brilliant subterfuge makes him look like a half-drow smeared with orange face paint. His stealthy exit from the inn, this time via the window, is far more effective, and Alton does not note his second departure. Travelling to the other side of town, Zoland clambers up the wall of a two-storey home, ripping the latched window he encounters out of its frame and tossing it to the ground as he leaps through the opening. The noise wakes the two middle-aged commoners sleeping in the room's double bed, but one has been brained with a spiked chain before the other has had a chance to start screaming. Those screams do manage to wake the neighbourhood, but the screamer's life is quickly cut short as a blow from the spiked chain lacerates his spine.

Zoland then sets about looting the room, first throwing the bodies against the door, along with the bed, to form an improvised barricade. Coming upon a locked wooden box under the bed, Zoland smashes it open and pockets the silver coins which once constituted the savings of the two nearby corpses. Several papers are also present, but the half-drow ignores these and grabs the handful of coppers left out on the room's small table before leaping out the window with his loot, falling on his bottom on the way down. He attempted to sneak back to the inn, but this time the large numbers of alerted guards manage to catch him before he makes his escape, and he is confronted by a patrol of Lord's Men.

The patrol pursues him into an alley, where Zoland clambers up onto a nearby roof and makes a leaping rooftop escape. One guard, attempting to climb after the half-drow, falls to his unlikely death, while a quick bit of misdirection on the part of the half-drow leads his pursuers astray and allows a stealthy return to his room. Zoland removes his disguise (and blood-spattered clothes), crawling into bed as the guards continue their search outside.

The rest of the night passes, and the inn is not stormed by guards seeking to behead the half-drow.

XP:
Zoland - 112
Mordred - 50
Alton - 75
Firuga - 25
Xeno - 25

Body Count:
Zoland - 2 commoners.
Gravity - 1 Zhent armsman.

Treasure:
Zoland - 50sp, 8cp.

Absent Players
Firuga - Firuga will have to figure out where she'll be staying for the next tenday, and apparently it won't be in a luxury suite...


As you may have noticed, things have started to go downhill...

DM
 
-September 28th, 2008-

Tarsakh 29 1374DR.
While Zoland is off murdering commoners, Firuga seeks out the only other luxury accomodations available by visiting the Grinning Maiden festhall, Llork's high-class brothel. There, in exchange for far too much gold, she gets to indulge in fine wines and pastries before retiring to silk sheets, feather pillows, and a full-body massage with scented oils. The indulgence also gives her the opportunity to hobnob with several Zhentarim officers, who prove wonderfully sympathetic to the story of her kingdom and its fall. Goblins, they say, are truly an awful race, their presence menacing the trade routes in the area and rendering barbaric a land that ought be under civilized Elven rule. The Zhentarim of Darkhold, the officers claim, would certainly support restoration of an Elven queen to the throne of Firuga's kingdom.
The light of dawn brings a squad of purple-cloaked guards to the inn where the party is staying, searching for a half-elf. A few words to the innkeeper reveal the presence of a half-drow, and a dozen guards storm up the stairs, knocking loudly on the doors of Zoland and Mordred (Alton's door as well, but the dwarf is already outside training with his axe). Both half-drow and necromancer take their time answering, putting on their armour, and Zoland opens his door first to deliver a greeting with his spiked chain. Mordred, hearing the scuffle, opens his door and puts his hands up.
The battle is quick, with the blessings of Shar seeming to have deserted Zoland... one guardsman is downed, several are wounded, but Zoland himself is sent tumbling to the floor, bleeding to death. The guardsmen stabilize him and drag him off to the local Temple of Cyric, with one of Cyric's priests (apparently also the officer in command of the guardsmen) briefly questioning both Mordred and Alton.
With Zoland gone, the rest of the party offers his room to Firuga, who takes advantage by having a long-overdue bath before deciding that any bed used by the half-drow is too contaminated for use by a sun elf and returning to her own rooms. Xeno takes an afternoon nap. Mordred makes a fateful decision, that the half-drow has been bringing far too much attention to the party with his indiscriminate murdering... the necromancer sits by the entrance to his room with the door open and waits for news of Zoland's fate. The dwarf continues to sharpen his axe.

Zoland, a few hours after his defeat, awakens in a cold stone cell, stripped naked save for the rough bandages covering his wounds. He immediately begins attempting to rip the barred door from its frame, and when that fails turns to prying stones out of the floor. Before he can loosen a floor stone, a cleric of Cyric appears for a chat.
The conversation involves a promise of reward for a task the cleric avoids naming until Zoland agrees, after which the cleric suddenly begins casting a spell, stating "You will join the Zhentarim caravan setting out acros the Anauroch on the 8th of Mirtul, 1374. When the caravan stops at the oasis of swords, you will kill Xathen Breth". The words sink into Zoland and he can feel them binding into his mind... a geas imposed by the divine magic of Cyric.
Zoland is given a fresh set of desert robes and sent on his way, after being told his gear had already been returned to the inn.
As he comes up the stairs and reaches the upper hall, heading for his room, Mordred greets him and gives him a friendly tap on the back. Contained within this tap is the spell Cause Moderate Wounds, doing 16 damage to 0HP Zoland. The half-drow dies instantly and collapses on the hallway floor.
Having also been waiting for Zoland's return, the dwarf steps out into the hall and catches the immediate aftermath of the exchange. He too makes a fateful decision... the necromancer has indiscriminately killed a travelling companion, and is thus a threat to his fellows. Such a threat must be removed.
This neccessity is accomplished with a single blow from his axe, splitting the necromancer open. The cheap Zhent-built armour protecting Mordred buckles with the blow, chain links splitting and scattering across the floor as its enchantment escapes with a hiss. A quick coup-de-grace follows, ending Mordred's quest for vengeance against Lathander.
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The sounds of battle attract the attention of the inn's other residents, as Alton quickly searches the bodies for valuables. Locating Zoland's room key, the dwarf unlocks the chamber and drags both corpses within to keep them out of the way, though the mingling blood from Mordred's sundering and Zoland's re-opened wounds makes it obvious that violence of some sort has occured. The innkeeper peers out from his own chambers, across the hall from Zoland's room, but is apparently accustomed to the brutal reality of life in a Zhentarim township and quickly shuts the door to avoid involvement. Firuga's reaction to the noise is much the same, and her door is shut again as quickly as it was opened.
Xeno, also waiting to question the half-drow about his actions and his fate, mounts the stairs in time to witness the dwarf as he goes about his corpse-looting. Heated words are exchanged... the air genasi having been rather fond of the necromancer and seeing nothing wrong with anyone murdering the psychotic half-drow. Still, the argument remains one of words rather than blades, and the dwarf pushes down the stairs to seek out Mordred's carriage and its top-hatted driver, after which he will inform the Cyricists of his actions.††
Otto, sleeping in the carriage parked at one of Llork's caravan rest fields s short jaunt east from the inn, is woken by a dwarf ripping open the carriage door and brandishing a bloody axe. Mordred, explains the dwarf, has been killed for being a threat to the party, and Otto will be left with a month's wages and ownership of the carriage but Alton will now be removing everything else of value. A terrified look on his face, Otto nods and is left alone as Alton scrambles about emptying secret compartments and pulling cargo sacks from their positions on the carriage roof.
While the dwarf heads off to deal with the driver, Xeno hatches a plan of his own. He hurries as quickly as he is able to the Temple of Cyric, telling an altered version of events to the clergy of the God of Lies: when the half-drow, obviously released for some important purpose, returned to his lodgings, the greedy dwarf cut him down, and slew the necromancer (a champion in the fight to destroy the Church of Lathander, no less!) for good measure, in order to steal their valuables.
The cleric seems unconcerned, save for a furrowed brow when told Zoland is dead, and Xeno returns to the inn.
Alton, some time later, also comes to Cyric's temple to tell a tale, admitting his murder of a murderer's murderer to the God of Murder in a rather truthful account. Again, though dissapointed at news of the half-drow's death, the clerics seem uninterested, announcing that they have already heard a version of those events, and have just dispatched a few Lord's Men to collect the bodies and confirm the details. Satisfied, the dwarf heads back to the inn.

XP:
Zoland - 225
Mordred - 200
Alton - 250
Firuga - 125
Xeno - 225

Body Count:
Zoland - 1 Lord's Man
Mordred - Zoland
Alton - Mordred

Treasure:
Alton - Zoland and Mordred's valuables, minus 150sp.
Otto - Carriage, 2 horses, 150sp.


And suddenly I'm trapped in a flashback... its the turn of the millenium, we're all at TRHS, I'm GMing Star Wars D6, and everyone in the party has decided they need to murder everyone else. The horror...

DM
 
-September 30th, 2008-

Tarsakh 29 to Mirtul 5 1374DR.
While the dwarf is absent, Xeno's raven alerts him on his rooftop sanctuary that Otto is entering the inn. Descending to greet the top-hatted valet, the air genasi finds him in the upstairs hallway, tracing the bloody path where the bodies were dragged into Zoland's room. He asks if the door can be opened, and Xeno obliges with his rogue skills, opening the chamber and allowing the rogue to pilfer a few remaining items from amongst the dead half-drow's posessions while Otto wraps his dead master in bedsheets. The pair then carry Mordred's body downstairs and through the streets to Otto's waiting carriage, after which Otto and his vehicle depart with a cold vow of revenge.
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Returning to the inn, Xeno notes a gaggle of Lord's Men entering and then departing the inn, complaining that the corpse inside had already been looted of its 'remaining' valuables, followed moments later by the innkeeper and a family member dragging Zoland's corpse out of the inn and tossing it into a nearby ditch. Xeno decides to follow the Lord's Men, who head across the street to the Drover's Cup tavern. There, after waiting for the Men to down a few drinks, he approaches and informs them that a dwarf is responsible for filching all the valuables from the bodies in the inn, and he ought be heading back to his room right about now. The predictable response from the Lord's Men is to draw their weapons and stagger out the door, muttering about who gets the mithral and who gets stuck with the silver.†
The guards are, however, to be dissapointed, as the dwarf hears their drunken arguing while they lie in wait for his approach. It is a simple matter to circle around via the back alleys and then depart town for the night.
In the morning, a paranoid Xeno invites Firuga to join him and Hulbert at the tavern across the street, to share a bottle of wine and a bit of breakfast. The air genasi chooses a table facing the door with his back to the wall, worried that his lies to the priests of Cyric might be discovered and lead to his arrest.
A few hours of conversation reveal a version of the night's events to Firuga... according to the air gensai and his henchman, Mordred killed Zoland (neither Xeno nor Hulbert have a problem with this) and then Alton killed Mordred (neither Xeno nor Hulbert agree with the dwarf's course of action). Xeno seems concerned that the city guards may come lokking for the rest of the party, while Hulbert is vocal in his distrust of the dwarf. Otto, it appears, was threatened by the dwarf but remains angry over his master's death, and took both the necromancer's corpse and carriage off to parts unknown. The dwarf is in posession, according to Xeno, of the items posessed by both Zoland and Mordred.
Xeno has good reason to be paranoid, though the threat is not quite what he believes... employing his newly-looted Hat of Disguise, Alton makes his return in the morning as an elderly man, planting himself outside the tavern where the air gensai is staying, hoping to catch him alone. The presence of Hulbert and Firuga, as well as the Lord's Men who frequent the Drover's Cup, bar the dwarf an opportunity to strike. He continues to wait, in various guises, for a few more days before deciding that Xeno will be a more vulnerable target once he has left the safety of urban crowds and is journeying eastward with the Zhent caravan. Alton contacts the Zhent caravan commander, arranging to meet up with them a day or two east of Llorkh. He then departs the town.†
As far as the remaining party members are aware, Alton seems to have dissapeared entirely from town on the night of Mordred's death... possibly having moved on, though both Firuga and Xeno have direct experience in the effectiveness of Mordred's Hat. Xeno continues to display extreme paranoia, sleeping on the inn roof under his familiar's watchful eye rather than in his room (though Hulbert still sleeps there) and attempting to spend as much time in the sun elf's company as possible. Mordred's carriage returns to its spot in a nearby caravan rest yard after a day or so of absence, and Zoland's corpse vanishes from its resting place in the ditch. Two days before the caravan is due to depart, Otto leaves with his carriage, westward towards Loudwater.
Firuga decides that she will continue eastward, despite loss of both the severed hand that was leading the party and two of its members. Xeno makes the decision to continue onward as well.†

XP:
Alton - 100
Firuga - 25
Xeno - 25


And so, it appears that new characters will be needed for at least two players. They are produced with great speed!

Taseldar Olithir (sun elf male TN archivist 3 wizard 1). Single-minded researcher with significant intelligence but few worldly skills. Seeks to discover magical lore.
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Lianne (elan female NG soulknife 4). Psionic with few memories of her past but a drive to uncover the secrets of her powers and background. An Elan (humans who have transcended old age and the need to eat or drink through psychic power). Hates the undead and wants to destroy them for perfectly legitimate reasons her player hasnt been able to explain and which have nothing to do with the fact his first character was murdered by a necromancer.
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DM
 
-October 1st, 2008-

Mirtul 6 to Mirtul 13 1374DR.
On the last day before departure of the Zhent caravan, Firuga treats herself to a final massage at the local brothel while Xeno takes up his usual paranoid place in the Drover's Cup (along with Hulbert). There, Xeno is suddenly accosted by an unfamiliar sun elf, who immediately begins bombarding him with questions about the breeze that seems to surround the air gensai, all the while testing wind strength and speed with bits of parchement. The elf is introduced as Taseldar Olithir, and seems dissapointed by Xeno's rather blunt statements that the breeze effect comes not from spellcraft but from his planetouched blood. His travelling companion, a red-haired human woman whose appearance seems slightly 'off', also introduces herself as Lianne. The pair take seats at Xeno's table and all discover that they will be heading eastward with the same Zhent caravan. As food is served, a subtle demonstration of magical skill can be observed, with the air gensai's prestigitation demonstrating his sorcerous abilities (again, to Taseldar's dissapointment, Xeno reveals that this is an innate ability and he does not have a spellbook to share), and Taseldar's purify food and drink showing both his divine spellcasting abilities and his opinion of local human food. Xeno and Hulbert also inform the newcomers that two of their travelling companions (a murderous half-drow and a friendly necromancer) are dead, killed by a third (a dwarf named Alton Greyforge) who has since disappeared. Though both Xeno and Hulbert express belief that Zoland's death was neccessary and Mordred's was a betrayal, Lianne seems unconvinced that the demise of a necromancer could be anything but good.
After a restful night at the inn, everyone meets up at the caravan outfitting yard, where they pay their 25gp fees and undergo a direct inspection by each of the caravan's thirty-odd Zhentarim members. They and their belongings are also scanned using detect magic, with each magical item they posess explained and recorded by the caravan's wizard. They then set out on their journey.
Firgua's first meeting with Taseldar is a difficult one... he is not a pretty man by any standards, but he is a sun elf of noble blood, and it has been many years since...
The elven princess shrugs off the thought, and Taseldar's seeming lack of respect for proper title or decorum, inquiring as to the possibility of recieving some instruction in the arts of wizardry. Taseldar agrees, though he insists that Firuga acquire a proper spellbook and the expensive inks for recording spells, something the princess finds herself unable to afford at the moment.
At the first camp made by the caravan after leaving Llorkh, the Zhentarim guards are approached by Alton, using the Hat of Disguise to garb himself in black-and-gold armour with a Zhentarim sigil on his cape. The guards seem suspicious, despite the apparent Zhent uniform, and keep Alton under watch as they fetch their commander.
The commander's initial suspicions seem to be shunted aside when Alton identifies himself and makes the Zhent a proposal... the dwarf has significant gold, and wants the air genasi travelling with the caravan dead. What would be the price? After some thought, the commander asks for 800 gold pieces, suggesting that though it would be bad for business to murder a caravan member, but that an 'accident' could be arranged while they are crossing the Anauroch. Alton agrees to pay 200 gold now, the rest when the deed is done. The Zhent then suggests Alton adopt the guise of a merchant when he joins the caravan, and Alton does so.
Xeno's raven familiar, keeping watch over his sleeping master, observes the exchange, though he does not hear what is being said, and reports the arrival of a dwarf with a Hat of Disguise and reports the information to Xeno.†
The next morning, Firuga is disturbed by the sudden appearance of a new tent in the camp (she is not alone, several of the Zhent guards eye the new arrival cautiously as well) and promptly casts detect magic, discovering that the new arrival is Alton with Mordred's Hat of Disguise. A brief exchange occurs, and Firuga decides to keep her newfound knowledge to herself.
The caravan continues onward, with Taseldar finding time to converse with the Zhentarim wizard, leading to an exchange of spellbooks which sees the Zhent copy unseen servant and Taseldar (lacking the expensive inks needed for spellbook writing) scribing a scroll of see invisibility for later use. Though not an academic by any means, the Zhent is at least a passable conversationalist when it comes to magical research.
The caravan's route takes it through the mountains via the Dawn Pass, skirting past the small hamlet of Parnast in favour of a campground sheltered within a patch of moorland. The caravan then continues onward to the Western Pool, a Zhentarim oasis on the edge of the Anauroch desert.
The Pool itself is a deep stone basin, filled with water, surrounded by nine weathered statues which may once have once depicted humanoids. Around the pool are market tents selling supplies for desert travel, and several large fields have been fenced to house horse and camel herds. Taseldar's use of detect magic reveals that, to his dissapointment, the nine statues are not magical, and that the water in the pool originates from a small Conjuration effect (likely a Decanter of Endless Water), and that the pool itself is surrounded by some sort of layered Abjuration spell.
The party sets about trading horses for camels and otherwise girding for their journey, and as the sun sets the next day, the caravan sets off into the desert.

Members of the Caravan
Xanthen Breth - Cleric of Bane, and commander of the caravan. A tall, broad-shouldered Chondathan with tanned skin and short-cropped black hair. Wears a bladed gauntlet and full plate armour, and thus likely has some magical means of protecting himself from the elements. The Zhentilar soldiers accompanying the caravan seem to follow his lead.
Kishivan Tenmurders - Cleric of Cyric, and the caravan's second-in command. A wiry Illuskan, though her face has lost the normal paleness of the Northern peoples. She has little respect for Xanthen Breth, and makes no effort to hide this fact. The Lord's Men in the caravan seem to view her as their commander, while the Zhentilar do not.
Chadar Gorzola - Cleric of Shar. A short Chondathan, whose reaction to everything seems to be one of 'I wish I were somewhere else right now'. He seems to have minimal influence amongst the other members of the caravan, save for the Zhent wizard. He carries a large paper parasol, which is interposed between himself and the sun.
Tolshok Ibrin - Middle-aged Damaran, carrying a heavy spellbook and arcane components in a leather shoulderbag. He seems to be responsible for much of the caravan's bookkeeping, and is generally friendly to most other members. His spellbook contains the following: Acid Splash, Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Disrupt Undead, Ghost Sound, Flare, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic, Resistance, Touch of Fatigue, Alarm, Color Spray Endure Elements, Grease, Magic Missile, Obscuring Mist, Protection from Good, Silent Image, Shield, Unseen Servant, Mirror Image, See Invisibility, and Web.
Zhentilar Soldiers - Two dozen Zhentilar are part of the caravan, mostly Chondathans and Damarans, with one or two showing signs of orcish blood. Equipped with heavy shields and shortswords.
Lord's Men - Purple-cloaked guards of Llorkh, fifteen originally accompanied the caravan out of Llorkh, but only six remained when the caravan headed off into the Anauroch. Equipped with light shields and longswords, and bearing thin bands of purple ribbon over the shoulders of their desert clothing.
D'Tarig Guides - Two young men in turbans and white woolen cloaks, armed with javelins. They are human, but unusually squat in stature... barely 4' in height, and have been identified as guides from the nomadic tribes which live along the edges of the desert.
Zhent Camels - The bulk of the caravan is made up of dromedaries, loaded down with parcels and saddlebags of trade goods as well as the supplies needed for a desert crossing. Thirty-six dromedaries make up the caravan, most roped in two parallel lines of fifteen animals. The Zhent clerics and wizard each ride a saddled dromedary, as do both D'tarig guides.†
Dimmle Lark - Independent merchant from Loudwater, taking a load of tanned leathers to Phlan. Has four dromedaries: one which he rides and which carries his tent and supplies, the others which carry his trade goods.

XP:
Alton - 200
Firuga - 175
Xeno - 150
Lianne - 175
Taseldar - 225
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DM
 
-October 5th, 2008-

Mirtul 13 to Mirtul 16 1374DR.
The caravan moves east into the desert, travelling by night and sleeping in the shelter of their tents by day. With an expanse of sand surrounding them on all sides, and the approach of a new moon lessening the light during night travel, there is little of interest to be seen on the journey until midway through the third night of travel, when the cleric of Bane signals a halt as his D'tarig scouts approach from the east.

The scouts consult with the Baneite, explaining (overheard by a few party members) that they have sighted a nomad camp occupying the oasis ahead. The Baneite responds by organizing a force of a half-dozen Zhentilar troops near the front of the caravan, and approaching the caravan's other members to inform them that nomadic desert raiders have occupied the oasis the caravan had planned to use for watering and rest at the end of the evening. As these raiders attack and disrupt trade through the Anauroch, the Zhents will take advantage of the opportunity to strike at them, and invite any interested to join in the battle. The members of the party agree for various reasons, save for the dwarf (who does not wish to discard his disguise just yet). The Baneite then moves to speak with the Cyricist cleric taking up the rear of the caravan, and a muffled argument can be heard... again, a few party members have good ears, and discover that they are arguing over who will take leadership of the attack, with neither one seemingly eager for the job. At last, the Cyricist assents and orders her Lord's Men to join the now-prepared Zhents at the front of the caravan. Along with the party members joining the effort, the group sets out.
After just over an hour of travel, the outline of the raider's camp appears on the horizon... a few palm trees and a cluster of tents. The attackers attempt to sneak forward as close as possible, but a shout indicates they are spotted before they reach the outer tents. In response, they leap into battle. Firuga demonstrates the effectiveness of the Duskblade, sending flame and death across the camp as she leaps from victim to victim. Lianne takes a more merciful approach, holding her blows to deal nonlethal damage, while Taseldar employs a mixture of fire and nonlethal as Xeno pairs magic missiles and stab wounds in the dark.
It quickly becomes apparent that not all of the raiders are combatants... while a handful wield sharp scimitars, most appear to be women armed with daggers, and a few children can be seen screaming and dashing about. The Zhentilar take their 'leave no one alive' orders seriously when they encounter these, and Firuga doesnt much care, but everyone else generally refrains from commiting massacre of children. The battle eventually winds down after the camp's apparent leader is felled (unconscious) by the combined efforts of Firuga, Lianne, and a small fiendish scorpion summoned by Taseldar.
As the battle rages, Xeno decides to try and avoid combat with children and their mothers, ducking into the shelter of a nearby tent. Sheltered there, he watches a series of disturbing developments: the first is the sight of a Zhentilar soldier stabbing a Lord's Man in the back, and the second is that same Zhentilar asking a companion "Where is the planetouched?"
The paranoid air gensai knows a bad situation when he sees one, and sends his raven to inform Taseldar of the Zhent betrayal. Cutting open the back of the tent, Xeno then sneaks around the outside of the camp, and when a Zhentilar soldier passes nearby he decides that pre-emptive action is the best course, stabbing the Zhent in the back.
This attack quickly leads to a standoff, Zhents and Xeno each claiming the other is a traitor while the rest stand poised to attack either should they make a move. The stalemate is suddenly broken when the cleric of Cyric, observing that none of her Lord's Men seem to have survived, strikes one of the Zhent soldiers with a fist filled with divine magic.
The Zhent glows brightly for a moment, the bones of his skeleton shining in the night, before he is reduced to ash.

For better or worse, this attack triggers the actions of the party members, who also strike at Zhent targets. Even Xeno's raven familiar joins in, serving as an impromptu dive-bomber and dropping a payload of alchemist's fire. It takes only a few moments for the Zhents to be taken down, a final survivor fleeing off northward into the desert as fast as his legs will carry him. The prisoners are bound with ropes, and Lianne takes charge of the unconscious Bedine after warning the Cyricist away. The Zhent is interrogated first with threats, which produce few results, and then by Taseldar dripping acid towards his groin, which renders him much more responsive. The party discovers that the Zhents had orders to kill the Cyricist and her Lord's Men, as well as Xeno, during the confusion of battle.

The cleric is brought back from her earlier dissapointment when Xeno decides to keep her distracted by suggesting that she flay the Zhent prisoner alive. She takes up the suggestion, adding to the ordeal by borrowing Taseldar's acid and placing the vial in the Zhentilar's mouth, but unfortunately the Zhent decides to take death by esophageal corrosion rather than waiting to find out what the cleric had in mind for him.
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The night is quiet once more, save for the crackle of burning tents, as the party sets about looting the camp.

XP:
Alton - 250
Firuga - 345
Xeno - 345
Lianne - 345
Taseldar - 345

Body Count:
Firuga - 3 Zhentilar soldiers, 1 Bedine warrior, 3 Bedine tribespeople, 2 Bedine children.
Taseldar - 1 Bedine tribesperson.
Kishivan - 3 Bedine tribespeople, 2 Zhentilar soldiers.
Zhentilar Soldier Boblik Smugglithorde - Himself (suicide by biting acid).

POWs:
Lianne - 1 Bedine warrior, 2 Bedine tribespeople.
Taseldar - 1 Bedine sheik.

Treasure:
Unclaimed - 16 daggers, 4 scimitars, 15 filter scarves, necklace of polished beads, 2 suits leather armour, 3 shortswords, 3 heavy shields, 15 iron pots, 12 tents, 15 mastercrafted rugs, 28 clay pots (filled, water), 3 clay pots (filled, fermented milk), 16 waterskins (full, water), 1 small clay camel statuette, 2 small clay warrior statuettes, 1 small leather ball, 68 days trail rations, 4 50ft-lengths hemp rope, silk purse (containing 10cp), 1 small coin-sized platinum pyramid (with bust and lettering inscribed on the bottom, faded to illegibility).
Lianne - Masterwork scimitar, 1 dagger.


This particular session saw one of those unexpected moments when a roll of the dice catapults an NPC from relative obscurity into a central role.
I hadnít expected Kishivan Tenmurders, cleric of Cyric, to be particularly relevantÖ she was a priestess of the God of Murder, her presence underlying the internal conflicts within the Zhent caravan and her behaviour providing a bit of a demonstration to Zolandís former player of how one could play a chaotic evil character without going around at night murdering random commoners. Mechanically, she was optimized for a particular attack, stretching her hand out in a rubbery claw to inflict painful death on a foe, but in terms of numbers it wasnít all that impressive, more useful for downing a 1st-level warrior or two than winning out over major foes. However, when she first used it, the dice gods were smiling, and all of the dice rolled came up to their highest value. In D&D terms, that meant that the attack threatened and confirmed a critical hit, doubling a total damage that was itself at its maximum value. An attack that was expected to do some 20 damage ended up inflicting 60. Needless to say, the PCs were impressedÖ one player decided his character (Firuga) would dedicate herself to Cyric in order to gain such power. Lianneís player immediately decided his character would have to try and kill her, inventing flimsy IC reasons to do so based on an OOC desire to prove his character build was the better one, which wasnít a good sign.
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DM
 
-October 6th, 2008-

Mirtul 16 to Mirtul 17 1374DR.
As the party settles down to rest through the day in their newly-conquered camp, they note that the women and children who made up its former inhabitants seem unusually short on manpower and camels... they wouldnt have been able to move the camp about on their own. There is some uncertain discussion about moving on, but eventually Lianne's determination to stay and care for her unconscious prisoners wins out in the absence of an alternate plan. Watch duty is assigned and everyone settles down for sleep, save for Firuga who takes the first watch shift.
As most of the party had predicted, Firuga's watch is interrupted by the appearance of additional nomads, this time many men with scimitars rather than babies and their mothers. They appear to have escaped Firuga's notice on their approach, and their presence is only revealed when several charge out of the darkness at the sun elf duskblade.
Firuga manages to raise the alarm as she backs away, but the three attackers threaten to overwhelm her, and their combined blows begin to take their toll, when Lianne appears wielding her psionic blade, soon joined by the cleric of Cyric and a sleep-wand-wielding Xeno. Taseldar remains in his tent, attempting to meditate so he can regain his expended spells. The battle is difficult, but in the end the party wins out and stands alone in the camp once more.
Entering her tent after the battle, Lianne notices that her three prisoners are dead, throats cut, and that a hole has been sliced into the back of the tent. Immediately, she turns to hunt down the Cyricist cleric, whom she blames for the murders.
As she heads towards the central tent, where the cleric had rested earlier, Firuga steps back in concern and attempts to draw her bow. The psionic responds by turning and striking the sun elf, attempting to avoid a lethal blow but still producing a flurry of elven curses. Within the central tent, Taseldar remains in meditation as the cleric and Xeno prepare themselves to meet the apparent threat. Xeno leaves the tent and comes up behind Lianne, tapping her on the shoulder, while Firuga steps back and tosses a vial of alchemist's fire, which bursts to cause slight injuries to both her and the psionic. Though Lianne is unfazed, the fire knocks Firuga to the ground, her injuries threatening to render her unconscious.
Lianne then storms into the central tent, arriving shortly after Taseldar witnesses the cleric's divine magic renders her invisible. When the psionic demands to know the cleric's location, the archivist claims not to know, and so Lianne sets to searching the tent, without success. After a few minutes, she gives up and returns to her tent, dragging the bodies out into the desert then attempting to meditate and calm herself, after providing Firuga with a potion of Cure Light Wounds.
The remainder of the party gathers in the central tent for rest, where the cleric reappears and casts a healing spell on Firuga before taking up the next shift on watch. The party rests through the remainder of the day, recovering from their ordeal.

XP:
Firuga - 450
Xeno - 450
Lianne - 450
Taseldar - 300
Kishivan - 450

Body Count:
Firuga - 2 Bedine warriors.
Xeno - 3 Bedine warriors.
Lianne - 3 Bedine warriors.
Kishivan - 2 Bedine warriors.
? - 2 Bedine tribespeople, 1 Bedine sheik.

Treasure:
Unclaimed - 10 scimitars, 2 suits leather armour, 8 filter scarves, 3 waterskins (empty). [added to the pile left from last session (by Tenmurders, during her watch)].

DM
 
-October 8th, 2008-

Mirtul 16 to Mirtul 17 1374DR.
After the raiding party (led by the Cleric of Cyric, along with her Lord's Men and most of the travellers who had joined the caravan at Llorkh) departs for the oasis, the rest of the Zhentarim caravan stops and raises their tents. The caravan commander orders additional men to join the watch shifts, promising additional rest time once the caravan reaches the next oasis, and so the caravan remains under the eye of at least eight Zhentilar troops at any time.
Two hours after making camp, as dawn begins to rise, the two D'tarig scouts return, reporting to the Zhent commander that the battle for the oasis has begun, and victory is likely despite the tenacious defense certain to come from the Bedine.
An hour later, Alton overhears an argument between two Zhent guards and Hulbert (the air gensai's hireling)... apparently the Zhents have been eyeing the gensai's posessions, and the hireling is warning them off.
Things become somewhat more eventful after the sun has risen... about three hours after sunrise, there is some commotion in the camp. One of the D'tarig scouts has returned from scouting, dragging a bleeding, semi-conscious Zhent soldier. The caravan commander immediately orders the wounded man brought into his tent for interrogation. After a few more hours, the commander emerges and approaches Alton, questioning him on the connection between the planetouched and the Church of Cyric, and informing him that the Dark Sun's cleric appears to have sided with Xeno to slay Zhentarim troops. The caravan has sufficient supply to bypass the oasis, and could leave the problem to be dealt with by the harsh desert and its violent Bedine tribes, but the commander is concerned that the Cyricist might survive and continue to pose a threat, as she has means of survival and a knowledge of the Black Road's course. A mutually-beneficial arrangement is reached between Alton and the Zhents, whereby the Zhentarim refund his payment for the gensai's murder and both head into battle against the rebels at the oasis. Confirming that Alton has no reason to object, the caravan commander also takes action against a potential thorn and has Hulbert stabbed during his sleep.
Taseldar and the cleric of Cyric are on watch as the sun begins to set, and they easily spot the approach of the Zhentarim caravan, its soldiers arrayed in a phalanx line, backed by crossbowmen and their officers, including an armoured dwarven warrior. A hundred feet away from Taseldar, the Zhents come to a halt, and one of their number is sent forward bearing a canvas sack. The Zhent representative informs Taseldar that he and the others are welcome to rejoin the caravan, so long as they hand over two 'criminals', Xeno and Tenmurders, for interrogation... the threat implied if the party fails to cooperate is underlined by the emissary tossing Hulbert's severed head out of his canvas sack. Taseldar does not object, but declines to do the Zhent's work for him. The Zhent offers a short time to discuss their actions, but is interrupted by a mindblade to the shoulder.
Having heard the conversation between the Zhent and Taseldar, Lianne had come out of her tent and prepared a strike, hidden from the view of both the emissary and Taseldar but fully visible to the line of Zhentarim a hundred feet to the west. Her attack does not fell the Zhent emissary, though it certainly hurts him, and its impact marks the beginning of a battle for the oasis.
The Zhentarim phalanx begins its slow advance as crossbow bolts impact in the sand around Lianne. A more impressive attack comes from the Zhent wizard, who unfurls a scroll and uses it to send a ball of fire hurtling towards the camp. Its impact causes an explosion of fire which barely misses Firuga and the Zhent emissary, both some twenty-five feet away, and causes beads of glass to form in the sand around Lianne, but the psionic is able to weather the flames and emerge with only minor wounds.
As Lianne leaps towards the wounded emissary, the rest of her party begins fleeing eastward.

XP:
Alton - 75
Firuga - 50
Xeno - 25
Lianne - 25
Taseldar - 50

Body Count:
Zhentarim - Hulbert of Neverwinter.


And this marked the end of this particular campaignÖ Iím still not sure WHY Lianneís player decided his character needed to trigger a battle with a vastly superior force, but what was done was done.
Party unity had been shatteredÖ the dwarf was already essentially his own party, and wanted to kill another PC, so joining back up wasnít going to happen. Taseldar had no reason to care about anyone involved, and was going to rejoin the caravan and keep going to his destination. Lianneís player was probably still angry about his ultra-optimized build having been disparaged a session previously, and wanted to prove how awesome it was by killing everything in sight. Xeno and Firugaís players both wanted to have their characters flee with the cleric of Cyric, and play on. If it had been one of our Star Wars D6 campaigns, I would have gone with the last option, had those two escape over the desert and be joined on the other side by new characters to replace the dead or lost, but Altonís player thought everyone else should make new (true neutral) characters and rejoin his Ďpartyí, while Taseldarís player was getting frustrated with the whole cycle of self destruction thing that seemed to be plaguing the evil party.
With some players still wanting to get answers to some setting questions, we decided to start a new party in the same campaign world, this time sharing a common organization and Ďgoodí alignment. All that was left was to wrap up a few loose ends.
DM
 
-October 12th, 2008-
The End of the Beginning

Mirtul 17 1374DR.
The battle around the oasis marches on towards its inevitable conclusion. Xeno, Kishivan, and Firuga flee eastward on foot as fast as they are able, well aware that the battle will not be won. Alton advances towards Lianne, who is well able to outpace him, though she faces the additional threat of two clerics and a wizard, as well as the Zhent rank-and-file. Taseldar, not caring enough to die in pointless battle, mounts his camel and trots off a bit north, away from the fray, intending to rejoin the caravan once it resumes its journey. As he does so, he passes one of the two D'tarig scouts who are flanking the oasis from north and south, their advance too late to catch those who took immediate flight but well timed to delay the retreat of any enemy combatants.

Those ignorant of Cyric's nature might muse that he blessed his cleric this day, but any who know the Lord of Murder would know their god is not one for granting such aid (though they would offer fervent prayers of thanks nevertheless): a mile to the east of the oasis, the camels belonging to the now-slain Bedine nomads remain tethered, awaiting masters who will not be returning. Xeno and his ccompanions, at this point needing any luck they can get, are quick to take advantage, loosing those they do not take with them to wander the desert.

Though eventually victorious, the Zhentarim emerged bloodied and weakened, spells expended and ranks depleted... any plans to cover up their difficulties through murder of civilians in the caravan must be abandoned. Noting the large number of corpses scattered in the area, the Zhentarim commander leaves his men an hour to gather up as much water as they are able, and then leads the caravan off at full speed, pushing past dawn to put distance between himself and the delicious buffet certain to attract the Anauroch's resident blue dragons.
When checked by Alton shortly after the battle, the Severed Hand points southeast.

And then the curtain closes.


And then we set off with a new party.

Darvin Amblecrown (male human CG warmage 1 warlock 3). A good fellow, who likes to help out his friends. By blowing shit up with magic.

Nene Fiveflowers (female aasimar LN duskblade 4). A short plate-armoured woman, loyal friend of DarvinÖ the two engaged in sexual experimentation during their teens.

Thamian Moonshadow (male moon elf CG shadowcaster 4). Born to a family under a great curse which leads all to their violent and horrible deaths, Thamian travels the world to seek answers and escape from his curse.

Shadowheart (female fey-blooded human NG archivist 3 fey-blood 1). A plump, bookish young woman whose head is often buried in a book and who speaks little. Has no reason at all to be an adventurer.

Kethoth Bastet (male human NG factotum 4). An Egyptian Indiana Jones, with a spring-loaded wand hidden in his sword.

DM
 
-October 13th, 2008-

Dungeons and Dissertations

Mirtul 17 to Mirtul 18 1374DR.
Waterdeep is not burning. Not that immolation would slow the pace of the City of Splendours, known across the Realms for its cosmopolitan populace and for the mages who take up residence there. More than one Chosen of Mystra makes their home in Waterdeep, and rare indeed is the adventurer who has not dreamed of the treasures to be had delving into Halaster's Undermountain. The city calls to those seeking wealth, to those seeking adventure, to those seeking knowledge, and brings them all together in a cacophony of street-criers and carriage wheels, soothing harps and the sharp echoes of metal against metal.

The subjects of our story have come, like so many others, to the City of Splendours (or, in several cases, have been born here and never left). Though they each pursue goals of their own, they have been brought together within Lerenhost's Library, a scholarly association of researchers (and magic-users) interested in recovering ancient knowledge and unlocking the secrets of the past.
Already, the group has undertaken two missions on behalf of the Library: one northeast of Waterdeep in the Sword Mountains, where they dispersed some kobolds from caves and recovered a magical hauberk (chain shirt) which demonstrated human craftsmanship but followed elven rules of aesthetics, and another further eastward in the plains, where they helped defend the half-orc historian Ararush of Daggerford as she located a long-abandoned riding camp in search of surviving saddles (in hopes that they might find evidence of early Phalormin stirrups). Both efforts involved Phalorm (an empire of allied human, dwarf, and elven kingdoms which existed in the North from 523DR to 615DR, when it fell to orcs and internal divisions).

The party's latest assignment is set to take them to the Mere of Dead Men, an expanse of swampland between Waterdeep and the city of Neverwinter (currently being rebuilt after the Luskan invasion last year). According to Library scholars, the Mere was once a fertile coastal realm known as Uthtower, an ally of Phalorm which lasted from its founding in 146DR until it was destroyed in 615DR as it fought against an orcish horde swarming in from the East. Its destruction remains shrouded in mystery... the general consensus amongst historians is that the Mage Royal of Uthtower, Iniarv, used potent magic to send massive tidal waves against the orcs, destroying them but inundating his kingdom in the process. The details of life in Uthtower were washed away or sunk into the salt marsh, and the Library is eager to recover them... particularly information on the magic of Uthtower and its Mage Royal, whose final casting shows immense power far beyond what one would expect from a small seaside realm.
Yesterday, an opportunity arose when a pair of fishermen returned to Waterdeep with an interesting story: caught by stormy weather along the Sword Coast, they were forced to seek shelter in the Mere, pushing their shallow-bottomed boat into the marsh in search of shelter and higher ground. They found shelter of a sort... a hill atop which stood a crumbling stone ruin. The fishermen did not dare explore the ruin, flipping their boat to make a shelter once it was pulled up to higher ground and then departing as quickly as they could when the rains lessened. Arriving in Waterdeep, their story to the dockworkers was overheard by a Library informant and the two were interviewed at length by scholars attempting to put a name to the ruin and discern its value.
Unfortunately, there was too little information to present firm conclusions: Uthtower was said to have built several watchtowers along its shores, with signal lights and harbours for their fishing and trading vessels as well as to warn off raiders from the sea. The location of one of these towers, known as the 'Myrpost', is thought to be close to the location identified by the fishermen. According to the Library's research, each watchtower stood above chambers designed to hold tax records and revenues, armouries for equipping the garrison with gear, and maps for planning out patrols, all of great use to those conducting research into Uthtower.
The party's objective is to locate and investigate the ruin, attempt to discover wether or not it is the Myrpost or some other edifice, and report on conditions for future research. If the ruin proves too dangerous, they are to retreat, but if possible they are to press on as far as possible and recover what they can (the library is particularly eager for records and maps). Though the Library hopes to analyze everything the party recovers, they will not need to keep basic treasures such as coins, which the party may take to cover their expenses and support their own research efforts.

Several hours before dawn the next day, the party assembles at the docks in Waterdeep, boarding a square-rigged cog hired by the Library to transport them up to the coast of the Mere. Their difficulties begin immediately, as rain and wind toss the boat about in a manner unsettling to the stomach... Darvin Amblecrown loses his lunch repeatedly during the journey, and is tied fast on deck to do so undisturbed while his companions take shelter in the hold.
With the storm becoming worse, the cog's captain declares that he cannot risk remaining too long near the shore. Crewmen with pole-oars and anchor lines guide the vessel as close as they are able to the shore, aiming for a raised copse of trees that might provide some shelter. Unable to beach the ship or lower a plank, the captain tells the party that they must make the leap from deck to shore.
First to make the leap, Darvin splashes down in a foot of water and quickly scrambles up to firmer ground. He is followed by Nene Fiveflowers, whose plate-armoured jump ends predictably with a tumble into water five feet deep, some inches greater than the poor girl's stunted stature. Still on deck, Thamian Moonshadow employs magic to ferry over his belongings before signalling his familiar to make the leap. The shadowy cat also splashes into the water in embarrassing fashion, while its master makes his leap successfully. It takes the shadowcaster only a few moments to retrieve his familiar, the howliing wind and pelting rain hiding the poor creature's shame from the rest of the group.
Kethoth Bastet then makes his leap, a masterful jump which carries him to a perfect landing amongst the trees, over the head of Darvin as he struggles to pull Nene up from the depths. Shadowheart also leaps, a success but far less spectacular, and the party is soon resting in the copse as the cog pushes out of sight amongst the waves.
Wasting no time, Kethoth sets about leading the group through the swampy landscape, despite poor visibility. After two hours of searching, the factotum locates signs of rising land and follows them to a low hill topped with a crumbling stone structure: likely the ruin they seek.

DM
 
-October 19th, 2008-

Mirtul 19 1374DR.
The party advances into the ruin, searching for entrances and objects of interest. The ruin itself seems partway through transformation into a hillock, earth which might once have reinforced its stone walls joined by decades of mud and dirt. The main entry is easily identifiable, but it has collapsed into a heap of mud and stone which make it quite difficult to squeeze through. A more accessible entrance is found by scrambling up the steep slope to the top of the ruin, presumably once the second floor of its keep (the building may well have risen higher, but years have brought any such heights crumbling to the ground): an opening atop what was once a spiral staircase, now transformed into a twisting ramp of muddy earth. Kethoth knots and secures a rope to a nearby rock, and the party carefully descends to the ruin's interior (with Nene, her balance thrown off by the weight of her armour, suffering a close call that warns her companions to take the descent slowly). Darvin decides to cast a light spell on an unwilling Shadowheart, leaving the archivist glowing brightly.
The rooms of the ruin's 'ground floor' offer little in terms of treasure. Though mud has seeped in to cover the interior, the walls and floor appear to be made of well-fitted granite blocks, and remain stable despite years within the swamps of the Mere. A thorough search by Kethoth reveals signs that several humanoid creatures have passed through the area... the tracks are certainly not those of the fishermen who supposedly found the ruin.
In one chamber, the party discovers a second staircase descending further into darkness. From below, some members of the party are able to catch snippets of indistinct conversation in the Draconic language. Unfortunately, Darvin hears nothing, and declares loudly that the group ought continue exploring, bringing the Draconic chatter to an abrupt halt. Kethoth and Thamian, both able to see in darkness and with some skill at stealth, head down to investigate just what hornets nest their compatriot may have awakened. Darvin casts another light spell, this time on a chunk of stone near the top of the stairs, and then retreats back a safe distance along with Shadowheart and Nene.
At the base of the stairs, the pair spot several humanoid lizard-creatures armed with clubs and javelins, standing on alert in an adjoining room. The creatures do not spot the factotum or the shadowcaster, presumably unable to see well in pitch blackness, and one of them lights the room they inhabit with an odd lantern that emits a soft white glow... the spell behind the effect is recognizeable to Kethoth and Thamian as a variant of continual flame. This gives the two a plan, and a surprise attack is launched, Kethoth's darkness snuffing out the light as Thamian's shadow magic knocks its bearer to the floor. The remaining lizard-men hiss in surprise as further blasts of shadow follow, along with Kethoth's blade and the shocking magic of the wand contained within it. Above, the other members of the party are alerted to activity below by the sharp crackle of electricity, a battle confirmed soon after as more lizards charge forth invoking the name of the deity Semuanya.
Darvin descends and joins the fray with his spells. Though the party scouts have knocked several lizards unconscious, the warlock-warmage is first to make a proper kill. Behind him come Shadowheart and Nene... the former recognizes their opponents as lizardfolk, a territorial but generally neutral race with little in the way of advanced magic or technology. Moonheart uses his knowledge of Draconic to shout out an offer of negotiating a truce, and Nene dives amongst the lizards but holds her blows so they might respond... the lizardfolk do not take up the offer, though it is uncertain wether this is due to malice or merely the distraction presented by the fire and falling stones Darvin rains upon them.
To those in the party casting spells, it becomes quickly apparent that their conjurations are more potent than they ought be... Kethoth recognizes such as characteristic sometimes seen in ward magic, a precursor to the elven mythal, where spells of certain types can be bolstered in the warded area while others are sapped.
As the battle rages, Nene notices several unarmed lizardfolk ushering smaller lizard-children through a door at the far end of a large hallway. When the lizardfolk warriors finally see the fight as lost, the survivors retreat towards this door, the last one escaping through it as an arrow from Thamian's bow fells his final remaining comrade. Shadowheart once more attempts negotiation, this time offering a final chance to surrender, assisted by Nene, but again the lizards fail to respond, shutting and bolting the door as the party advances towards it.
Darvin immediately sets to attacking the door with spells, while the rest of the party investigates the remaining rooms on this floor, discovering little of interest save some storerooms for food (fish) and equipment. After unleashing several spells, Darvin defeats the door and opens the way to another downward staircase.

Body Count:
Thamian Moonshadow - 1 Lizardfolk javelin warrior (+ 2 Lizardfolk javelin warriors knocked unconscious).
Nene Fiveflowers - 1 Lizardfolk club warrior, 1 padlock.
Darvin Amblecrown - 3 Lizardfolk javelin warriors, 3 Lizardfolk club warriors, 1 wooden door.
Kethoth Bastet - 1 Lizardfolk club warrior.

Treasure:
Unclaimed - 31 wood javelins, 6 wood clubs, 2 crocodile-skin & wood heavy shields, 8 metal fishhooks, 1 30sq.ft fishing net, 2 bottles of liquid (labels read Seawine, Uthtower 82), 14sp, 62cp, 21 continual flame lanterns.
Shadowheart - 1 continual flame lantern.
Kethoth - 2 continual flame lanterns.


By the second session of the new campaign, things were already looking badÖ the players who had wanted to keep their previous characters werenít really into the new campaign (Firugaís player created Nene, a Ďgoodí Firuga clone, while Xenoís player created a character whose lack of participation would be masterful in-character RP). Zoland-Lianneís player was a bit of an ass generally, constantly trying to disrupt other peopleís efforts. Not pleasant.

DM
 
-October 20th, 2008-

Mirtul 19 1374DR.
Descending the staircase, the party comes across... another door. Kethoth sets to work with his tools, first listening and catching snippets of Draconic indicating an ambush is being planned on the other side, followed by use of a drill to pierce a hole. Beyond can be seen an empty corridor... likely the enemy waits to flank anyone passing through. So, instead of opening the barrier, Shadowheart employs his summoning magic to conjure a small fire elemental into the hallway.
The elemental immediately sets about attacking a lizardman hiding around the corner, as a hail of javelins descends upon him. He lasts only a short time before he is defeated, but in that time the party gets some idea of the dangers they face: some seven or eight lizardfolk warriors.
Kethoth employs a vial of acid to weaken the door, while Nene delivers two potent strikes and breaks it asunder. The party then swarms out into the corridor and engages the lizardfolk in hand-to-hand combat. One of the lizardfolk, better equipped than the others and able to summon serpents to assist him, proves particularly difficult to fell, but though Kethoth is badly injured the lizards are all eventually brought down.
A quick search of the area reveals no further ambushes but many doors barred from within.

Body Count:
Nene -
2 Lizardfolk javelin warriors, 1 Lizardfolk leader, 1 small viper [summoned].
Shadowheart -
1 Lizardfolk javelin warrior.
Darvin -
3 Lizardfolk javelin warriors, 1 Lizardfolk club warrior, 1 medium viper.

Treasure:
Unclaimed - 2 wood clubs, 2 crocodile-skin & wood heavy shields, 6 wood javelins, 1 suit crocodile-leather armour, 1 sprig of holly and mistletoe, 1 wood holy symbol of Semuanya.

DM
 
-October 27th, 2008-

Mirtul 19 1374DR.
The factotum devises a plan to deal with the numerous doors now facing the party... one by one, he stops at each to listen for activity on the other side and to test how it is held in place. Most are barred from the other side, and two seem to lead into the same chamber, where numerous Lizardfolk voices are audible. A moment is taken to push through the one unbarred door, but aside from a few javelins there is nothing of value to be found.
The party, low on spells, decides that some rest is in order, after which they can continue onward. The factotum attempts to craft two simple traps, to cause noise should anyone open the doors out from the lizardfolk-occupied room, and settles to rest in the corridor where he can keep an eye out for anyone trying to walk through the halls. The rest of the party settles in the comfort of the larger room around the stairway back up towards the surface.
After about three hours resting, Kethoth spots light beaming into the corridor from one of the rooms the party had thought was unoccupied. He readies himself, and strikes immediately as a pair of lizardfolk round the corner heading towards him. Holding his punches, he knocks one unconscious while the other one flees in the opposite direction (at the urging of its companion). Kethoth pursues, the sounds of the battle waking most of his companions. Shadowheard, feeling useless without her spells, decides to ignore the commotion and try to keep sleeping, while Nene wakes up and kicks Darvin awake to help her struggle into her bulky plate armour. The warmage-warlock, however, decides he has more important things to do than help gird his companion.
The fleeing lizardman, wounded by an eldrich blast fired by Darvin, eventually reaches one of the doors to the occupied chamber. After banging and shouting, the door opens to reveal a number of lizardfolk, including many who seem childlike in appearance. Kethoth jumps forward, slashing his way into the room as Thamian and Darvin support him with archery and spells. The battle is long, and though he drives the lizardfolk fleeing before him, the factotum eventually.succumbs to their flurries of bites and bludgeoning, slipping to the floor bleeding and losing consciousness. It falls to Thamian to defeat the few remaining lizardfolk, while Darvin pursues a group of fleeing lizard children in an attempt to halt their escape. This he manages to do, killing them and the adult leading their way, along with the unconscious lizardman who had been first to fall in this combat, before barring himself in a room with their corpses.
Meanwhile, in the stairway chamber, Nene and Shadowheart suddenly hear shouting from the floor above... frightened cries in Draconic: "TROLL! TROLL!" Two lizardmen warriors, looking quite wounded, dash down the stairway soon after. Shadowheart takes the opportunity to finally wake up, and flees away from the stairs, while Nene stands guard as she finishes putting on her armour before following at a less-speedy pace. Both arrive in the room where Kethoth lies bleeding.
Investigation of that chamber reveals an attached kitchen and storeroom with barrels of fresh water and significant quantities of dried fish. A portion of a deer carcass is also found, looking to have provisioned the lizardfolk with fresh meat, as there are no signs of either fire or cookware. Another door leads into an adjoining chamber, into which the party saw a dozen or more lizard children flee: the door seems to be barred from the other side, and so the party hauls the newfound water barrels over to create a blockade of their own in front of the door. The doors out into the corridor are closed and barred, as Shadowheart assists Kethoth in using his healing wand to recover from his injuries.
Their position somewhat more secure, though with the possibility of a troll squeezing through the corridors above, the party prepares to try and rest once more.

Body Count:
Thamian - 8 Lizardfolk.
Darvin - 1 Lizardfolk club warrior, 5 Lizardfolk, 3 Lizardfolk spawn, 1 wooden door.
Kethoth - 2 Lizardfolk.

DM
 
-November 2nd, 2008-

Mirtul 19 1374DR.
Having rested for several hours and regained their stores of magical might, the party launches an assault on the lizardmen who remain cornered in a blockaded chamber nearby... the crowd of women and children, packed like sardines, last a scant half-minute before they have all fallen to a torrent of rocks and fire.
Leaving Shadowheart and Thamian to keep an eye out for more lizardfolk, Nene and Darvin then follow behind Kethoth as the factotum scouts to see if the rumored troll threat is real. He confirms that this is very much the case when a pair of the creatures, lounging near the ruin entrance and chewing on lizardfolk corpses, spot him and launch an attack. Kethoth flees downward, screaming 'TROLLS!', and the other two follow quickly behind him.
Kethoth proceeds to the safety of the dungeon depths and keeps onward with his scouting, preferring to face the threat of lizardmen rather than that of the trolls. The other two are more daring, waiting to see if the trolls are pursuing them and then launching a counterattack with blasts of fire and acid.
Though seemingly suicidal, the attack on the trolls eventually proves successful, though at the cost of the stairway linking the ruin's second basement level to the first. Darvin's masterful spellcasting while riding on Nene's shoulders is a particularly impressive highlight displaying the pair's capable teamwork.

Body Count:
Thamian - 1 Lizardfolk spawn.
Darvin - 8 Lizardfolk spawn, 2 Scrag (swamp trolls).
Nene - 1 Lizardfolk, 7 Lizardfolk spawn.
Kethoth - 1 Lizardfolk spawn.


Things werenít improving muchÖ the party had some hesitation when confronted with unarmed lizardfolk children, but Thamian and Darvinís players proposed that the fact they were monsters meant slaughtering them had no moral implications, and this was accepted.

DM
 
-November 3rd, 2008-

Mirtul 19 1374DR.
While scouting the floor below, Kethoth spots a number of lizardfolk standing guard, and a few chambers where light beneath their locked doors might point to occupants therein. Deciding that caution is the better part of valour, the factotum turns about to gather the rest of the party. In doing so, he (along with Shadowheart and Thamian) learn of the battle with the trolls and the destruction of the staircase upwards. Shadowheart's superior knowledge of nature's beasts confirms that the two slain monsters are 'scrags', an aquatic, swamp-dwelling troll subspecies.
Not to be slowed by such a paltry challenge, Kethoth clambers up to the next level and secures a knotted rope to a hammered piton, providing the rest of the party with means of egress should retreat become neccessary. The factotum also decides to scout the surface for signs of further troll presence, and finds none, though his search is not entirely without fruit... the path taken by the trolls to enter the ruin is a direct one, with the creatures having cleared some of the rubble blocking the main entrance in order to gain access. In addition to the remnants of several lizardmen and the dung of trolls, Kethoth also spots a bundle of rags which appear to have been soaked in a putrid mixture he cannot identify. The bundle was certainly not present when the party first arrived at the ruin, and further investigation reveals that someone has used Kethoth's original rope to enter and depart from the ruin. The factotum tosses the strange bundle into the swamp and retrieves his rope and grappling hook, then returns below.

Hoping to finish their campaign of genocide against the lizardfolk, the party comes up with a plan of attack against those remaining on the lower level... While Nene advances to do battle directly, backed by Thamian and Shadowheart, Kethoth and Darvin will attack along a flanking corridor, the factotum blocking lizardfolk while the warmage blasts away along the narrow passage.
The plan is executed perfectly, and though the lizardfolk struggle as best they can, defeat eventually overtakes them. Even the appearance of their champions, a raging barbarian and a cleric of Semuanya, only delays the party's victory. The barbarian does provide a few interesting items: a set of gauntlets and a hammer that crackles with electrical energy, neither of which seems to be of lizardfolk make. The cleric, last to fall, ends the battle with a final cryptic warning "The Maw of Semuanya shall consume you all!"

The party then sets about looting and scouting for Lizardfolk survivors. These, a gaggle of children defended by a few adults, are quickly located and exterminated, leaving the stone halls of the ruin pleasantly free of panicked hissing.

Body Count:
Thamian - 1 Lizardman shaman [cleric 3].
Nene - 1 lizardman chieftain [babarian 4], 3 lizardman warriors, 3 lizardfolk (Staceyss, Wandass, Slutsss McEasyss), 1 lizardfolk spawn (Sammyss).
Darvin - 1 lizardman warrior, 1 lizardfolk spawn (Jimmyss).
Kethoth - 6 lizardman warriors, 2 lizardfolk (Kristiess, Debbiess), 2 lizardfolk spawn (Karlss, Lil'Bubberss).

Treasure:
Unclaimed - 8 wooden clubs, 2 crocodile-leather heavy shields, 1 crude wooden toy carved in the shape of a lizardman warrior.
Nene - 1 set well-crafted gauntlets [?], 1 well-crafted warhammer containing electric magics [?], 1 crocodile-leather heavy shield, 1 silver necklace (with 12 keys), 1 crocodile-leather mantle (leather armour), 1 smooth fist-sized stone marked with a carved rune.
Darvin - 2 continual-flame lamps.
Kethoth - 1 quartz/coral lizardfolk necklace, 1 wooden holy symbol of Semuanya, 1 crocodile-leather mantle (leather armour), 1 wooden club, 1 Uthtower potion case, 4 empty potion bottles, 1 continual-flame lamp.

Absent Players
Shadowheart - Shadowheart played rearguard during the battle, and conserved her spells in case of later trouble.
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Even though, on paper, the characters hadn't killed themselves, the previous sessions had been rather unpleasant... from the start there were arguments and issues to contend with... characters casting 'light' on other PCs while fighting in a darkened room, characters noisily tossing rocks into corridors where other PCs were attempting stealthy scouting, characters abandoning their assigned sentry posts to look for loot and things to kill, characters hiding because their players wanted to finish the last chapter of a manga, etc. Two more 'sessions' passed where the players argued over division of loot and we tried to figure out a better way to approach things.

I think you guys and play-by-post have spoiled me as a game master... by this time I was getting rather frustrated with the whole affair, and particularly with D&D 3.5 and those who loved it. For a game that was supposed to take place at work when things were slow, it was creating an undue amount of stress. I've dealt with party implosion before (Star Wars D6 was really nothing BUT party implosions), but more frustrating was the nature of the game system and the thoughts that system provokes in players. I'd have players have their characters declaring it was time to make camp, not because it was getting dark or they were tired, but because they'd already completed their 'four encounters per day', characters arguing that if one PC took an expensive magic item from the loot pile he owed the others its magic-shop price rather than its sale price, because he was 'buying' it and so the same mechanic applied. Characters (one, really) that seemed to believe an artificial unspoken bond existed between members of a party regardless of how theyd met or each one's personal background, and that any who violated it needed to be immediately killed so they could roll a new character. Ultimately, there was nothing wrong with any of it, but it was wrong, if you know what I mean.

One of the suggestions for a solution to the issue had been moving the campaign to another setting, called 'Oathbound'. There were a lot of merits to the idea... PCs were sucked in from other worlds and forced by demon-god-creatures to work together, which would help party coherency. It had some neat mechanical ideas, like granting 'gifts' each level which granted special bonuses and abilities based on what you'd done while earning the XP. But that sort of mechanic would take a good grasp of the ruleset to keep balanced, and a lot of the Oathbound material was from 3rd edition and would need to be tweaked up to 3.5ed... neither of which I felt I was really suited for. Thus, I passed on my game-masterial gavel to someone with better mechanical knowledge and took up a character of my own.

Turns out to have been a bad idea. But that's enough tell-all therapy for one day.

NEXT TIME ON DUNGEONS & DRAGONS KITCHEN NIGHTMARES: Steve's Oathbound character and a reason never to get stuck in a dark room with a D&D player!
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Ledaal Shinjo
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"I think you guys and play-by-post have spoiled me as a game master..."

We were/are insanely spoiled to have you put up with us. I tried my hat as ST, I really don't enjoy the job very much. I'm occasionally tempted to give it another try, but it's so much damn work. Plus, we hardly ever get together over here, and our tastes have rarefied.

Sidereals would be sweet. :P:

Man, reading this D&D stuff is a horribly guilty pleasure, I have to admit. It's also illuminating, since I recognize some of the behavior as stuff I do in RPGs, though I like to believe to a lesser extent. Cause really, who doesn't want shinies and magic gizmos, or to fight a company of zombies/pirates/ninjas/lawyers/[insert random enemy subtype here]? :smug:

Keep this up, I'm enjoying your misery!
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Alrighty then.

In coming up with a character, we had some new elements to play with. Rather than rolling abilities, we used a point-buy system, with an ungodly 48 points to distribute (D&D considers 32pts to be for 'high powered' characters). Our characters were also 2nd-level 'gestalts', which is a bloody neat little variant on the D&D class-based system that does wonders for making characters more unique. Essentially, a gestalt chooses two different classes and gains the best features from either class (a gestalt wizard-barbarian, for example, would use the barbarian's d12 hit die rather than the wizard's famously-lacking d4) plus the unique abilities of both. The differences between two rogues or two sorcerers of the same level in core D&D can be minute, but with gestalt things start to vary immensely.

Posted Image

I decided to go with a wizard-factotum. Even if you don't have much knowledge of D&D, you probably know the wizard... a Vancian magic caster so weedy he invariably dies to a kobold sling stone before getting enough XP to reach 2nd level, but whose power increases exponentially leaving his linear-advancement comrades far behind by 20th level. A factotum is more interesting, and of all the D&D classes probably my favourite. A factotum is basically an Indiana-Jones-type fellow, someone who uses quick wit to solve physical problems. He can apply his bonus from having high Intelligence to improve his rolls for jumping over chasms, hitting orcs, and the like, as well as dabbling in a bit of magic and, at higher levels, using one of umpteen holy symbols to trick a deity into granting him healing as if he were a devotee.

I chose to have him originate in Eberron, which is an interesting setting, and would provide some neat roleplaying opportunities ala A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurís Court when the character found himself suddenly transposed from a world filled with magitech infrastructure and an international banking system into a more savage and less-advanced realm.

Seleth díOrien
 
Posted Image
Name: Seleth d'Orien
Class: Factotum 2, Domain Wizard 2 [Gestalt].
XP: 1350 (Next Level: 3000)
Type: Medium Humanoid.
Race/Gender: Male human (Karrn).
Alignment: Lawful Evil.
Physical Characteristics: Age 24, Height 5'10", Weight 150lbs.
Deity: Varies with the circumstances... generally Aureon.
Abilities: Str 10 (+0), Dex 16 (+3), Con 16 (+3), Int 19 (+4), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 12 (+1).
HD: 2d8 + 6
HP: 22
Speed: 30ft.
Initiative: +3 (Dex +3).
BAB: +1
AC: 13 (base 10 +3 Dex).
Saves: Fort +5 (+3 Con, +0 class, +2 familiar), Ref +6 (+3 Dex, +3 class), Wil +5 (+2 Wis, +3 class).
Languages: Common, Elven, Draconic, Giant, Goblin, Ceptu, Battlespeak, Silver.

Skills: Appraise 5 (+1 skill, +4 Int), Acrobatics 8 (+5 skill, +3 Dex), Concentration 7 (+5 skill, +2 Wis), Linguistics 9 (+5 skill, +4 Int), Disable Device 6 (+2 skill, +4 Int), Notice 9 (+5 skill, +2 Wis, +2 familiar within arm's reach), Search 9 (+5 skill, +4 Int), Sense Motive 3 (+1 skill, +2 Wis), Diplomacy 5 (+4 skill, +1 Cha), Use Magic Device 5 (+4 skill, +1 Cha), Spellcraft +9 (+5 skill, +4 Int), Knowledge (arcana) 12 (+5 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (architecture & engineering) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (religion) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (history) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (dungeoneering) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (planes) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (nobility) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (nature) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (geography) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift), Knowledge (Penance local) 8 (+1 skill, +4 Int, +3 Gift).

Feats:
--- Scribe Scroll: Item Creation. You can create a scroll of any spell that you know. Scribing a scroll takes one day for each 1,000 gp in its base price. The base price of a scroll is [spell level] x [caster level] x 25 gp. To scribe a scroll, you must spend 1/25 of this base price in XP and use up raw materials costing one-half of this base price. Any scroll that stores a spell with a costly material component or an XP cost also carries a commensurate cost. In addition to the costs derived from the base price, you must expend the material component or pay the XP when scribing the scroll. Recall that XP costs can be avoided by paying 10x that cost in appropriate components, and component costs can be avoided by paying 1/5th that much XP.
--- Font of Inspiration: (First) [+1 inspiration point per encounter]. When you take this feat for the first time, you gain 1 inspiration point. You can take this multiple times. Each time you take this feat after the first time, the number of inspiration points you gain increases by 1 (for example, you gain 2 inspiration points if you take the feat a second time). The maximum number of times you can take this feat is equal to your Intelligence modifier (+4).
--- Enlarge Spell: Metamagic. You can alter a spell with a range of close, medium, or long to increase its range by 100%. An enlarged spell with a range of close now has a range of 50 ft. + 5 ft./level, while medium-range spells have a range of 200 ft. + 20 ft./level and long-range spells have a range of 800 ft. + 80 ft./level. An enlarged spell uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spellís actual level. Spells whose ranges are not defined by distance, as well as spells whose ranges are not close, medium, or long, do not have increased ranges.
--- Cooperative Spell: Metamagic. If adjacent to another Cooperative caster (or casters), may cast same spell, using highest DC amongst casters as the base and adding +1 to save DCs and +1 to caster level for overcoming Spell Resistance for each caster involved (i.e. minimum of two cooperative casters = +2DC and +2 caster level vs SR).

Special Abilities:
--- Proficiencies: Light armor, shields (except tower shields), simple weapons, martial weapons.
--- Inspiration: 4 inspiration points per encounter.
--- Cunning Insight (Ex): Spend 1 inspiration point to add Int modifier (+4) competence bonus to a single attack, damage, or saving throw.
--- Cunning Knowledge (Ex): Spend 1 inspiration point to add Factotum level (+2) competence bonus to a skill check where you already have one rank. May only be used for a single skill once per day, but may be used multiple times for different skills.
--- Trapfinding (Ex): Factotums (like rogues and only rogues) can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20. Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. Factotums can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A factotum who beats a trapís DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with his party) without disarming it.
--- Arcane Dilettante (Sp): At the start of each day, may 'memorize' 1 0-level spell from the Sorcerer/Wizard list. Spend 1 inspiration point to cast a spell as a spell-like ability.
--- Conjuration Domain: Cannot specialize in a school of magic. Gain an additional spell slot per spell level character can cast, filled from the following list: 0- Acid Splash, 1- Mage Armor, 2- Web, 3- Stinking Cloud, 4- Summon Monster IV, 5- Wall of Stone, 6- Acid Fog, 7- Summon Monster VII, 8- Maze, 9- Gate.
--- Familiar: A wizard can obtain a familiar. Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion and servant. The wizard chooses the kind of familiar he gets. As the wizard advances in level, his familiar also increases in power. If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the wizard, the wizard must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per wizard level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a wizardís experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiarís demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs. A character with more than one class that grants a familiar may have only one familiar at a time. Seleth's familiar is Harsk the rat (see below).

Gifts
--- Gift of Understanding: +3 languages (Ceptu, Battlespeak, Silver), +3 to Knowledge checks, +1 Int.
--- Gift of Destiny: 1 action point (AP) per day. Spend 1 AP to add +1d6 to a single attack, check, or save. Spend 1 AP to stabilize if you are dying.
 
Spells per Day: 4 0-level + 1 Acid Splash (Domain), 3 1-level +1 Mage Armor (Domain).
Carrying Capacity: 27lb /33 (66/100)
Coins: 55gp 7sp.
Possessions: explorer's outfit (8lb), House Orien signet brooch, backpack (2lb) [chunk of Karrnathi bitter cheese (0.5lb), 3 days trail rations (3lb), hooded lantern (2lb), pint-flask of oil (1lb), flint & steel, 1 oz. vial ink, inkpen, 5x parchment pages], belt pouch (0.5lb) [identification papers with portrait, travelling papers (Korth to Sharn, round-trip), Utopian identification papers, Utopian welcome papers, various coins (approx 0.5lb)], spell component pouch (2lb), longsword,
Spellfolio (3lb) [Level 0 - Resistance, Acid Splash, Detect Poison, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Daze, Dancing Lights, Fleeting Flame, Flare, Light, Ray of Frost, Ghost Sound, Disrupt Undead, Touch of Fatigue, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Arcane Mark, Prestidigitation, Amanuensis; Level 1 - Shield, Comprehend Languages, Identify, Magic Missile, Benign Transposition, Expeditious Retreat, Charm Person, Summon Undead I, Color Spray, Sleep, Scholar's Touch].
Tome of Worldly Memory (1lb) [By studying the book for 1 minute, gain a +5 competence bonus on a single Knowledge check. If you have at least 5 ranks in the Knowledge skill in question, you need only peruse the book as a standard action to gain its benefit. The tome functions three times per day].

Storage & Banking:
--- Utopia (held due to being non-permissible in area, now likely confiscated): thieves' tools (1lb), masterwork longsword (4lb), masterwork light crossbow (4lb), box of 20 bolts (2lbs).

-----------------------------------

Background:
Seleth d'Orien was born 974 years after the founding of Eberron's Galifar kingdom, in the Karrnathi capital of Korth, son of the stationmaster overseeing the city's lightning rail station. The Last War was in full swing, with food shortages martial law a reality of daily life, but the neutrality of the Dragonmarked Houses spared the residents of the House Orien enclave from the worst hardships of the War, and the need for neutral parties to ship goods into the nation secured their wealth. While not privy to the extravagant lifestyles of royalty, those within the Orien enclave lived very well indeed, at the heart of an urban bourgeois economy, where education and magical technology were facts of daily life, and subsistence no longer a concern.
Seleth was a bright child, absorbing his lessons with remarkable speed... a fortunate thing, given that the young boy grew easily bored when studying the same subject for extended periods. The only thing that kept his attention for any length of time was the study of magic and the infinite possibilities it provided. His parents had hoped he might develop his arcane talents for use working with the bound elementals powering many House Orien contraptions, but in a discipline where true power comes through increasing specialization Seleth could not bring himself to abandon any school of magic in order to focus on another (a source of great frustration for his tutors).
Seleth's parents had originally hoped he would follow in the footsteps of his older brothers and further the family's business interests (the eldest an artificer working to improve the lightning rail, another pushes paper at the Korth rail station in preparation to succeed his father, and a third arranges Couriers Guild shipments for the arcane institute known as the Twelve), but Seleth was not eager to enter a repetitive life of merchant bureaucracy and 'factory magic', forced to cast nothing but dimension door day after day. With their own careers to distract them and other children having already secured the family's future, the attentions of his parents were easily diverted, and he was left largely to his own devices.
A Dragonmarked House, though, is not a family of idle nobles, and as he grew to adulthood Seleth was expected to contribute his labours to his House. Through one of his brothers, he managed to arrange membership in the Guild of Couriers, where his magical training qualified him to carry sensitive parcels too and from residents of the Twelve's floating tower above Korth. Though sometimes tedious, courier work provided Seleth with new scenery and ample chance for reading as he rode the lightning rail, as well as the occasional opportunity to test the magics he had been studying at the time. It also meant an excuse to continue dabbling in spell research amidst the lesser libraries of the Twelve, opened to him through gentle prodding of grateful magisters rendered giddy by delivery of this-or-that relic or material component. These studies left his rooms in Korth filled with all manner of half-finished theories and experiments, stories for the Korranberg Chronicle, and other discarded passions-of-the-moment.
The end of the Last War meant Seleth no longer needed to worry about crossing battle-lines, but the appearance of the Mournland added new dangers to certain travel routes (and new reasons for the Twelve to retrieve items from teams exploring such dangerous areas), and the continuing cold war meant there were always parties interested in interrupting the delivery of any package attracting the interests of a wizards' cabal.

Personality:
Seleth d'Orien is an intelligent young man, whose polite-yet-arrogant mannerisms betray his origins within Eberron's upper merchantile class. He enjoys reading, and has studied an extensive array of topics... no matter the subject, he likely has something to contribute to the conversation, and if he doesnt he may well just try to get by on guesswork. His pursuit of knowledge, however, goes only so deep... Seleth might peruse texts on pre-War Karrnath and Breland, but he has no desire to research A Complete History of Galifar, no more than his study of necromantic spells is the first step on a quest for lichdom... Seleth might aspire on occasion to such lofty goals, but he lacks the drive seen in those who truly dedicate themselves to such paths. After a point, months of copying notes from the same leather-bound tome becomes more work than its worth, and he could be learning to summon Lemures for half the effort, and he can always unlock the secrets of such-and-such sometime later.
Though life might not yet have forced him to focus on a goal, Seleth has a keen mind and is quite perceptive (though somewhat lacking in the lessons learned by those not born to privilege). Though much of his skill lies in more academic pursuits, his upbringing saw almost as many lessons in fencing and sport as in letters and penmanship. As is fitting for a member of House Orien, Seleth values quickness and endurance over strength... brute thuggery is, after all, best left to House Deneith.
Seleth is generally a personable fellow, if a bit too sure of himself for his level of accomplishment, and prefers to diffuse confrontation in favour of consensus. Though he comes from the economic aristocracy of his world, he has yet to be driven to seek positions of authority... he considers himself deserving of his social rank, but a battle for command would not be worth the cost unless it concerned events of major importance to him. He does, however, have an inflated value of his own opinions, and will show little restraint in objecting to another's point if he believes it to be wrong. Seleth is ultimately a rather selfish individual... though he does not actively seek to inflict suffering on others, he has no moral compunction about doing so to further his interests, and would rather see others perish than have himself come to harm. Upbringing in Karrnath has left him with an understanding that, when the veneer of economic relations is stripped away, order and power are maintained through force and fear, while his worldview is coloured by a firm sense of his own intellectual superiority.
Having been raised in Karrnath, Seleth does not feel the immediate association between undeath and evil seen in some cultures. The undead, like constructs or other technologies, can serve a useful purpose, and his generalist approach to the arcane arts treats necromancy as simply another school, concerned with positive and negative energies rather than elemental forces or illusions.
Seleth is rather fond of fine food and drink, particularly the bitter cheeses of his native Karrnath.

Motivations:
Up until this point in his life, Seleth d'Orien hasn't had any overriding motive behind his actions... he reads, he writes, he experiments, and he moves on when it all starts seeming too much like work. Knowledge is interesting and thus has appeal, with the possibilities opened by arcane magic having pushed him to apply himself to the field more than might usually be the case (though many specialist wizards would still dismiss much of his work as mere dabbling). His approach is certainly a luxury of his circumstances, and being removed from them may break him entirely, or may force him to find the focus he currently lacks.


As there isnít an option for a gerbil familiar, I went with a rat and named him HarskÖ couldnít resist.

Familiar
 
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Name: Harsk
Type: Tiny magical beast.
Race/Gender: Male rat.
Physical: Length 8Ē (tail +8Ē); Weight 11oz.
Hit Dice: 0.25d8 [2HD]
HP: 11/11
Initiative: +2
Speed:    15 ft., climb 15 ft., swim 15 ft.
Armor Class:      15 (+2 size, +2 Dex, +1 Natural Armour), touch 14, flat-footed 13
Attack:  Bite +5 melee (1d3Ė4)
Grapple: Ė12
Space/Reach: 2.5 ft./0 ft.   
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +4
Abilities: Str 2 (-4); Dex 15 (+2); Con 10 (+0); Int 6 (-2); Wis 12 (+1); Cha 2 (-4).
Skills: Acrobatics +10, Athletics +12, Stealth +16.
Skills from Master: Appraise -1, Concentration +6, Linguistics +3, Disable Device +0, Notice +6, Search +3, Sense Motive +2, Diplomacy +0, Use Magic Device +0, Spellcraft +3, Knowledge (arcana) +3, Knowledge (architecture & engineering) -1, Knowledge (religion) -1, Knowledge (history) -1, Knowledge (dungeoneering) -1, Knowledge (planes) -1, Knowledge (nobility) -1, Knowledge (nature) -1, Knowledge (geography) -1.
Feats & Special Qualities:
Rat Racial Abilities: Rats have a +4 racial bonus on Stealth checks, and a +8 racial bonus on Athletics & Acrobatics checks. A rat can always choose to take 10 on Athletic checks to climb or swim, even if rushed, distracted, endangered, or threatened, though in the case of swimming it must be moving in a straight line. A rat uses its Dexterity modifier instead of its Strength modifier for Athletics checks. A rat has a +8 racial bonus on any Athletics check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard while swimming.   
Low-light vision: A rat can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
Scent (Ex): This extraordinary special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights. The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range. When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealedóonly its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. Whenever the creature comes within 5 feet of the source, the creature pinpoints the sourceís location. False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures.
Familiar: Harsk is the familiar of Seleth díOrien. Seleth gains +2 to Fortitude saves if Harsk is within 1 mile, and the Alertness feat (+2 Notice) if the rat is within arm's reach.
Improved Evasion (Ex): When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, a familiar takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and half damage even if the saving throw fails.
Share Spells: At the masterís option, he may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) he casts on himself also affect his familiar. The familiar must be within 5 feet at the time of casting to receive the benefit. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the familiar if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the familiar again even if it returns to the master before the duration expires. Additionally, the master may cast a spell with a target of ďYouĒ on his familiar (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself. A master and his familiar can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the familiarís type (magical beast).
Empathic Link (Su): The master has an empathic link with his familiar out to a distance of up to 1 mile. The master cannot see through the familiarís eyes, but they can communicate empathically. Because of the limited nature of the link, only general emotional content can be communicated. Because of this empathic link, the master has the same connection to an item or place that his familiar does.
Natural Armour: +1AC.
Stealthy: You get a +2 bonus on all Stealth checks.
Weapon Finesse:  With a light weapon, rapier, whip, or spiked chain made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls. If you carry a shield, its armor check penalty applies to your attack rolls. Natural weapons are always considered light weapons.

Description: Harsk is a rat of average size, covered in coarse black fur. He and Seleth are a close pair, their arcane bond allowing a degree of trust not common amongst those of such evil character. Harsk is a generally cautious creature, aware that most things are much bigger than he is, using his natural stealth to remain concealed when he has to move about, though if cornered he will use his teeth as a last resort.
Harsk has come to know his master well, and uses Seleth's unfocused nature to indulge in a love for chewing on the pages of books. When his master grows bored with a certain text, Harsk stands ready to set about gnawing happily on the discarded tome.
A nocturnal creature, Harsk prefers to spend the daylight hours curled up sleeping in the warmth of his master's pockets, emerging at night to stand 'guard' and forage for snacks. He is omnivorous, preferring grains and avoiding anything sticky, and shares Seleth's fondness for bitter Karrnathi cheese.


I sketched out a few of Selethís favourite spells during character creation.
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Selethís soon-to-be partymates were as follows:

Aieuuroo (male ceptu LE gestalt 2 [psion2/ardent 2]). Essentially a floating jellyfish with psionic powers, who had to sleep in a hammock if he couldnít find a nice salty pond for the night.
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Briana'e'min Jhaelre (female drow NE gestalt 2 [cleric 2/bard 2]). A drow from the Cormanthyr woods in the Forgotten Realms, where she was the mind-controlled child-servant of a powerful male drow sorcerer who headed a rebel patriarchy. It was noted that she was a D-cup. Posted Image
Her player also illustrated his characterís mother after we criticized the idea of a D-cup elf, to show why it was justifiedÖ missing the point of the objection entirely.
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Darkglow (female pixie NE gestalt 2 [fighter 2/barbarian 2]). A psychotic pixie who engaged in rampant torture and murder of lumberjacks intruding into her woodland home (a forest in the Forgotten Realms).
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Zeek (variable-gender changeling CN gestalt 2 [rogue 2/wizard 2]). A shapeshifter from Eberron, who had been a petty criminal before being caught and forced to turn informant to avoid jail time.
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Some of us mused that party cohesion could only be maintained through melding all of us together into a single creature.
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And so we began. Session-log responsibility was passed to the new DM, though I continued to provide illustrations.

Other DM
 
[Nov 23, 2008]

(Blooming Hope, Prosper, 941 e2)

*Prologue*
Your children, your wards, share your sentence clear,
Forever and a year we bind you here.

Seven citadels to hold your fate,
Seven to cradle you in our hate;
Feathered four-horned fowl protect from breach,
And bar all creation from your reach.

None less then the greatest of the grand,
Wielding at their side or in their hands
Not less then the grandest of the great,
May ever aspire to break this fate.

Hear our laughter from pantheons on high,
As you envy mortals who simply die.

- Introduction to Oathbound

Aieuuroo
-Having lived your 38 years under the 'benevolent' dictatorship of the Ceptu, you eventually manage to run afoul of their thought police, on account of your blatant heresy.  You are captured by their powerful psions, but before they can take you away to be 'reeducated', a swarm of ravens mysteriously appear to bear you away, despite the fact that the living city of Ceseelaa sleeps upon the ocean floor.  When you awaken, you find yourself in a river, in the midst of Utopia.  Your arrival is noted as soon as you break the surface, and you are soon taken to the Central Registration Facility for processing.

Briana'e'min
-Having lived your 153 years under the constant mental control of your father, you had no thoughts of escape until you were suddenly freed from it all.  Of course, with so many mind slaves, you can't be completely controlled all the time, but a simple hierarchy of orders accomplishes much the same effect.  The sudden appearance of Israfel frees you from your life as a breeding slave... leaving you in the midst of the Plains of Penance, a vast and perilous land.  'Fortunately', you happen to encounter a patrol of the Lord Abbydon's men, as they range the lands, killing off bandits and other undesirables.  An elf among them takes you back to Utopia, where you are quickly conveyed to the Central Registration Facility for processing.

Darkglow
-Exiled from your home forest on account of your psychotic hatred, you find little hope in the hostile lands around you; with the humans devouring the forests in their aggressive expansions, and the demons ruling the nearest alternative.  Israfel, instead, offers you a third alternative.  Only it's not so much an offer as a forced teleportation to Utopia, because Israfel didn't feel like pretending it was your choice in this case.  Unable to avoid their patrols, you quickly surrender yourself, and are taken to the Central Registration Facility for processing.
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Seleth
-Your life actually wasn't that bad in your homeland... being a member of the powerful House Orien.  Unfortunately, some unknown disaster or act of terrorism takes out the lightning rail bridge, sending your train hurling down the gap surrounding Sharn to certain doom.  Due to the height of your fall, you have a moment to regretting never learning Feather Fall; in which you spot a raven, which mysteriously keeps pace with the falling train.  More join it, revealing the form of Israfel, who offers you a second chance to live.  You accept, and are taken to Utopia... where you suddenly appear amongst a crowd, and are immediately pointed out as a seed.  Appropriately, a bailiff approaches you, and conveys you quickly to the Central Registration Facility for processing.
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Zeek
-Your life in Eberron wasn't going so well.  Abandoned by your people, you turned to a life of crime.  After a lackluster and unsuccessful crime spree, you are jailed and forced to inform upon your fellow criminals.  Caught out by your fellow criminals, you are cornered, and they try to kill you.  They would've gotten away with it, too, were it not for the power of Israfel, who offered you an escape at just the right time.  You accepted, having little alternative, and are conveyed to a dark alleyway in Utopia... where, after some brief subterfuge, you surrender yourself to the authorities, who promptly direct you to the Central Registration Facility for processing.
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XP:
Aieuuroo: 75 (1075)
Briana: 100 (1100)
Darkglow: 50 (1050)
Seleth: 100 (1100)
Zeek: 75 (1075)

Other DM
 
[Nov 24, 2008]
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You all give name, species (and relevant abilities), gender, age, place of origin, occupation, education level, and criminal record; this information is collected and stored in their records, and on your identification papers (which you are required to carry at all times).  Your weapons, thieves' tools, and holy symbols are all confiscated, and you probably won't be getting them back.  You are then directed to the nearby dormitories, where you are offered a month of free room and board to help you prepare for your new life in Utopia.  Daily services (including brainwashing propaganda) are mandatory; and among you, only Aieuuroo has a strong enough will to resist... Briana joins the church willingly (albeit under her own dogma of infiltration and corruption), and the rest fall prey to the potent magics of Cardinal Dirce's voice.  You spend the next few days in preparation for your new lives, seeking places within the byzantine legalities of Utopia.  Aieuuroo seems interested in the inquisitorial squad, but his selfish rationale is soon noted... but they assume that he'll be brainwashed soon enough, and pay it little heed.  Briana joins the clergy whole-heartedly, and happily begins stealing Lord Abbydon's power.  Darkglow expresses nothing but the desire to kill, and begins physical training with the army.  Seleth is sent off to the Magical College of Utopia, and spends a lot of boring time copying texts, without learning much.  Zeek makes his own inquiries into the police force... and after some inquiries, is referred to a certain address.
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(Wasting Anew, Prosper, 941 e2)
Zeek arrives at the chosen address, only to find himself unexpectedly granted an audience with the Cardinal Jiopetta, who is a cat.  She says little, merely using magic (Abbydon's own, based on the holy symbol) to remove the 'disease' that is belief in Abbydon.  She then directs him outward, to return with more seeds.  Under the guise of an elf (and a secret policeman, at that!) Zeek seeks out and returns with Seleth (who had previously expressed doubts about the religion), and incidentally Aieuuroo, who insists upon following, and is not rebuffed.  This attracts some attention, but both receive the same treatment, and are quickly dispatched through a teleportation circle.  Zeek then proceeds to go back for Briana'e'min and Darkglow, presuming to take them out for dinner, but actually returning with them to Jiopetta.  Jiopetta attempts the same on Brianna, but apparently fails... and in her necessary paranoia, as such a high-placed mole, she proceeds to slay the apparent Cleric of Abbydon with her magics, and sends her through the portal to dispose of the evidence.  Darkglow seems unconcerned, and is happily cured and sent off.
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All but Briana are welcomed on the other side.  With a quick "Welcome to the Alliance, don't let the door hit you on the way out" from the agent on staff, they are shooed off in the direction of the area's better brothels.  Zeek and Seleth seek out inns of varying quality, Darkglow chooses to sleep outside, and Aieuuroo shells out some notable cash for spa treatment.  Briana, on the other hand, wakes up in a torture chamber, where she is roughly interrogated, and then raped, by a vicious dog-man.  Sucks to be an enemy agent in the middle of a war, it seems; as even the relatively benign governments of the Alliance don't mind arbitrarily depriving you of your rights and selling you to a slaver.

(Wasting Demure, Prosper, 941 e2)
Zeek seeks out his other companions, finding Seleth and Aieuuroo with little trouble.  They proceed to seek out the curiously absent Drow, and in the pursuit of such, they seek out the agent who met them at the portal.  Determining that the man in question is one Mattias; and that he can be found at a tavern known as the Nine Eyes, they head back out.  After a spot of expensive bribery involving a rather unique bottle of wine and a suitably impressive pearl, Mattias reveals that he sold the priestess to a Dover Slaver called Blackmaw.  Cursory investigations reveal that Blackmaw runs a rather exclusive brothel catering to certain antisocial fetishes, and does a good business in pleasure slaves on the side.  This speaks volumes about the corruption inherent in the Alliance, whose rough confederation seems likely not to outlast either the aging Lord Penates who administers it, nor the powerful threat of invasion from Utopia.  Having invested so much in their plans already, they begin making plans to rescue Briana from her captor.

Meanwhile, Darkglow attempts to earn some money on the side by dancing naked in public.  In the red-light district.  This was a horrible idea.  Annoyed at the competition, a nearby pimp charms her and makes her a better offer, which is accepted.  This still doesn't amount to much money, though.  Briana, meanwhile, languishes in a horrible dungeon, awaiting a rescue that may or may not be forthcoming...
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XP:
Aieuuroo: 225 (1300)
Briana: 200 (1300)
Darkglow: 100 (1150)
Seleth: 200 (1300)
Zeek: 250 (1325)

Other DM
 
[Nov 25, 2008]

Their funds depleted by expensive bribery, our heroes decide to save some money by camping in the undercity, instead of paying for an inn.  Tracking down the nearest free entrance, they descend a flight of rickety stairs, cross a makeshift bridge, and make their way down more stairs to descend to the first understreet level.
Exploring in this relatively well-traveled area, they stop at the first house with a closed door; which appears to be stuck or otherwise blocked from opening.  As this house, unlike most others, appears to be tightly sealed up and protected, they decide to break into it, by attacking the second-story window with a flying sword.  They break off this attempt after hearing shouting from within... and then stand around discussing things for a minute or two while whoever is within prepares.  Not surprisingly, the window opens, and a shadowy figure within starts firing crossbow bolts at the party.  Zeek falls first, and Aieuuroo is badly injured.  Fortunately, Aieuuroo manages to drive the foe back with his psychic powers, enabling a hasty retreat.  A quick divination advises that going back to murder the antisocial crossbowman would be... unwise... and thus the group continues on, and claims an abandoned and long-ransacked place as their own.  Much resting follows.
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(Wasting Hope, Prosper, 941 e2)
Zeek spends the whole day asleep, with Seleth and Aieuuroo alternating watches.  In complete darkness, as they're too cheap to burn the oil.  This is boring and dank.  Time is loosely measured by when they finally get tired and sleep.  Rations are consumed, depleting group supplies.

(Wasting Glory, Prosper, 941 e2)
Zeek continues to rest and recover, watches continue to cycle.  Still dark.  Today, however, the monotony is interrupted by a couple of friendly pickers from the Rafter's Guild, who mistakenly pay the group a toll for the use of their passage.  Profit: 10 gp

(Wasting Sate, Prosper, 941 e2)
Zeek finally awakens... and not a moment too soon, as an orc comes along to shut down this unauthorized tollbooth.  The party flees, and their place is smashed up.  Barring a brief mishap involving the old stairs, and a solution to said mishap involving a spot of magical teleportation, all is good.  The red sun is just rising now, and most people are still asleep.  A fine time for plotting.
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XP:
Aieuuroo: 50 (1350)
Briana: 0 (1300)
Darkglow: 0 (1150)
Seleth: 50 (1350)
Zeek: 50 (1375)

Other DM
 
[Dec 8, 2008]


The group immediately happens upon a brutal scene; finding three thugs beating the life out of a defenseless old man (who seems to bear a holy symbol, making him a priest).  After a brief conversation concerning possible tactics and risk/reward factors, the group decides to intervene; the Ceptu's mental prowess driving the weak-willed thugs away without incident.  Seleth examines the priest's holy symbol, and tracks the symbol back to another he had seen earlier; a canton over, outside this seedy 'service' district.  So the group goes, heading off through the dull crimson light of the red sun to deliver this priest to his proper place.

The group arrives shortly thereafter, finding the temple with little incident.  The temple's apparent guardian, one Sir Nathan Fremont, quickly allows you access, and sees the priest to a proper bed.  Questions are asked, and answered, and you are offered accommodations for the remainder of the night, and are referred to the high priest for further information.  It is at this time that the group reencounters Darkglow; who seems to have done poorly by her attempted prostitution; having been robbed quite thoroughly, she's here seeking the charity of the templefolk.

You don't have too long to rest before the hour of Stir arrives, heralding the beginning of the day.  The priests are up, and performing their rituals, and spells of magical healing are prepared and administered.  The group gets a meeting with Valkarn (the high priest), and he offers you what aid his order can provide... which for the moment constitutes magical healing, room and board, and an introduction to one of the more famous rafters in town.

The old priest, one Salak, is much recovered from his ordeal (thanks largely to the wonder of magical healing), and advises that he had his own man, one 'Brucelas', out investigating Blackmaw and his organization, but that he had gone missing.  Perhaps if you encounter him, you will find out still more...

Nonetheless, you head out on the most prominent of your current leads, in search of Blue-Eye, the rafter Valkarn referred you to.  The rafters don't so much have a 'guild' here as they do a branch office, but even that's enough to get you directions to Blue-Eye's lodgings... strangely, they're at a nearby embassy.  Your letter allows you access, and you meet up with Blue-Eye; who apparently knows of a secret entrance to Blackmaw's, but after assessing your capabilities, she advises that you aren't capable of getting there on your own.  She is willing to provide you with some guidance in this matter, but isn't interested in mere gold; she wants a 'Book of Wild Magic'.

Now how could you find a thing like that?

XP:
Aieuuroo: 100 (1450)
Briana: 0 (1300)
Darkglow: 100 (1250)
Seleth: 200 (1550)
Zeek: 150 (1525)


And thatís where we stopped. Reading over the official record, it may not seem that bad, but the DM has sanitized things somewhat when making his summaries.
The first difficulty was the setting itself. A gestalt character is better than a non-gestalt of the same level, but not as powerful as a non-gestalt one level above themÖ essentially you can figure out their level equivalent by the formula [gestalt level x1.5]. As 2nd level gestalts, we were thus equivalent to 3rd level non-gestalts. The Oathbound settingís equivalents of goblins and kobolds are considered suitable challenges for sixth-level characters. Worse, the DM had decided that all NPCs who had individual names were also 48-point-buy gestalt characters, using the class level total from the setting books as their gestalt levelÖ increasing the power of challenges already at minimum twice what we could handle by an extra fifty percent. The only reason we ever escaped an encounter without the entire party dying off was that our floating jellyfish had a psychic power to make opponents THINK they were at 0hp, causing them to withdraw for a few rounds until it wore off, by which time weíd already run like hell in the opposite direction.
The second difficulty was that the promised source of party cohesion never materializedÖ our characters barely knew each other, and had only the flimsiest reasons to work together. When we were scattered, none of us had any motivation to go look for the others, a particular problem when one PC needs not just to be found but to be rescued from a fortress-dungeon-brothel full of rape-mercenaries. The best I could come up with was that my character was looking to take advantage of a set of grateful D-cups, and everyone else was tagging along but planned to give up if a rescue put their own safety at risk. When we brought this up with the DM, he told us we should work together because we were Ďin the same partyí and that we should rescue the drow because he would only award XP when we completed major goals.

Together, those issues were a bit of a vindication for meÖ I had thought that Iíd run into trouble as DM because I lacked knowledge of the rule system. Turns out the guy with intimate knowledge of the rules system couldnít do any betterÖ Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition is, at its core, crap, and requires a certain way of thinking that sees no issue with mechanics considerations dictating in-character actions. 1e had the same problem, 2e wasnít quite so bad, and 4e is worse, so the system has been stuck in that rut for awhile now, and seems to have decided to revel in it.

I couldnít take too much pleasure in that realization, though, because our DM didnít just fail at balance. He also decided to use his DM powers to act out his sexual fetishes. I should have seen what happened coming a mile awayÖ the guy reads Dominic Deegan.

As you will note from the above, the D-cup drow was taken prisoner early on, and subject to torture and rape. Iím not one to object to either on principleÖ life is nasty, brutish, and short, and if I wanted my roleplaying to transport me to a magical land where genders are equal and unicorns fart rainbows Iíd play My Little Pony: the TicklingÖ and it was mentioned only briefly before we moved on in that session. The drowís player registering his discomfort with the idea of roleplaying that sort of thing, and the DM had it Ďfade to blackí.
But it didnít end there. Our DM then sent our imprisoned drowís player the following private message:
Other DM
 
A Dark Dream

You fall into darkness, a bottomless black pit from which there is no escape.  For an instant, you feel as though you are dead, and that your soul is plunging down, down, down through the infinite layers of the Abyss.

But that is not the case.  The darkness lasts as long as a dream, and as short as a dream, and as with a dream, from it you awaken.  You almost wish you hadn't, but the magic calling you back is as undeniable as the call of dawn that awakens the sleeper.

A dark mask stares back at you, it's twisting folds of cloth entirely obscuring the face behind it.  It is obvious that it is he who has wielded the magic to return you from your state of apparent death... but from the rough way he gropes at your naked flesh, it is immediately apparent that this one does not have your best interests at heart.

As you take in more of your surroundings, you realize a number of things.  Firstly, you are indeed completely naked... and bound with some sort of restraints.  You can't exactly look behind yourself to tell, but it does seem to be a solid metallic frame designed explicitly for such tasks... and it is holding your body in a spread eagle position, for easy access to all parts of your anatomy.

Secondly, this is quite obviously designed as a torture chamber.  All manner of vile implements surround you, illuminated by just enough candlelight to make the barely-seen curves of their blades and protrusions take on a fearsome aspect, and you shudder to think what horrors might be perpetrated upon you with them.

The masked figure laughs as you awaken fully, clearly aware of the effect such a rude awakening has on you, and revelling in it.  He speaks first... and it is indeed clearly a he, as his deep, gravelly voice and powerfully muscled physique make all too clear.

"You awaken at last.  As you should already be aware, I am here to ask you some questions.  Your fate will depend on the answers I am given.  I shall start with an easy question.  Are you, as I have been informed, a priestess of the Lord Abbydon of Utopia?"

You nod a quick yes, too frightened of this dark figure to offer meaningful resistance.  He laughs, cruelly and viciously.

"Most excellent.  Although it hardly matters at this point, except as a formality, know this; as an unmarked agent of a foreign Bloodlord, you are exempt from all rights and protections under the law.  As such, I can, quite legally, do anything with you that I wish... and if I do not like the answers I am given, I shall do just that."

The interrogator leaves your sight for just a moment, returning with a long black rod, which is spotted erratically by cruel twisting thorns.

"Let us continue.  As you have identified yourself as a priestess of the Lord Abbydon, you must be privy to information regarding his plans... and as such, I must ask; what are Lord Abbydon's intentions regarding Scopas' Rift?"

You've never heard of Scopas' Rift, and say so.  The interrogator shakes his head in mock sadness.

"Shame, it's such a popular and important landmark, too.  Perhaps this will refresh your memory!"

Without warning, he suddenly jabs forward with the rod, driving the mass of it straight forward into your abdomen.  Although he does jab quite forcefully, and does manage to draw blood with one of the rod's thorns, that pain is nothing compared with what happens next.  A powerful tide of magic washes over you, brushing aside your innate resistance like an annoying fly.  The power brings only pain... a searing, blinding pain that consumes the whole of your existence.  It permeates every inch of your being, with such powerful intensity that for a time, you can comprehend nothing else but the pain.

You could not say how long it lasted... it could have been an eternity, or mere moments.  A wet, sticky sensation between your legs tells you you wet yourself in the course of the spasms, and the malicious laughter of your torturer (who can now be called nothing else) clearly demonstrates his disdain.

"Foolish girl.  You will gain nothing from your foolish attempts to protect your master... and lose everything thereby.  You will not be rescued.  I will eventually learn all that you know.  The only question is one of how much anguish you are prepared to endure before accepting this."

So saying, he readies his rod again, clearly about to use it a second time.  In horror, you confess.  You can't even stand the thought of a second attack, and you tell him everything you know.  Words spill out of you in a torrent of information, but you don't really know anything of use, being new to Lord Abbydon's clergy.  Telling your torturer this, however, doesn't exactly please him.

"If you know nothing, then you are worthless to me... worthless in all ways except one, that is."

So saying, he shelves the rod, and returns with a gag, with which he binds your mouth.  Clearly uninterested in anything further you might say, he removes his hood... revealing his true face; that of a dog.  He laughs deeply and wickedly as he continues to disrobe, and his intentions are anything but obscure.  His black fur glistens with sweat in the flickering candlelight, and he takes obvious pleasure in your look of horror.  He then proceeds to take a more physical pleasure of you, and finds nothing but enjoyment in the depths of your despair.


Youíll note that Briana stops getting any XP pretty soon after her captureÖ this was because the DM wanted her player to earn XP by sending him a written account of the endless dog-rape-cycle and the psychological effect it was having on her. The player, having already indicated he wasnít comfortable roleplaying a rape scenario, declined and sought other ways to earn XP; the DM said the PC was imprisoned and had no other options. The player then asked if he could make a new character, either a temporary one so he could have something to do until he was rescued, or a permanent replacement (as it was looking like we werenít going to be coming to save the drow, or would be killed en masse if we attempted it); the DM said that the party would eventually have to mount a rescue.

Given that none of the players really wanted to be in a campaign where the DM required players to provide him with rape-porn, and the other problems meant there wasnít much redeemable in the campaign, we decided to end it there and move on to something else.
Later, we found out that he was running the same campaign with another groupÖ one of the characters, suggested as a good example of backstory, was a Nazi paladin. Not a racist autocratic paladin comparable to a Nazi, but a paladin serving in the Waffen-SS, who was transported to Oathbound during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Disturbing AND historically inaccurate, yeah!
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Ledaal Shinjo
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:dizzy:

Wow.
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Yeah.

Disturbingly enough, Al is also a fan of both Dominic Deegan and D&D.... someone better warn those Korean ESL students before he has them writing scat porn.

NEXT TIME ON DUNGEONS & DRAGONS MEETS HARDCORE BONDAGE FANFICTION: Everyone tries to sort out what the hell they'll try next, and Steve starts making increasingly ludicrous characters!
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I warned you about ludicrous characters, didn't I?

Crazy Steve
 
ENLIGHTENED MAGE

Reality is what we make of it. Such is the guiding maxim of the Enlightened mage, an individual who has discovered that the world is mutable, governed by the shared vision and assumptions held by its inhabitants. This 'consensual reality' seems static to most, but for a few who recognize its true nature it becomes a canvas upon which they can work their art. An enlightened mage invariably posesses great strength-of-will, overpowering reality with his determination and forcing it to conform to his individual desires rather than the subconcious expectations of the majority. But consensus, though it can be overcome, is a dangerous enemy to challenge, and when pushed aside snaps back to destroy the one who dared disturb it.

Enlightened mages, as evidenced by their very name, are an arrogant lot, and they tend to view the belief systems of others (wether in gods, arcane schools, or the like) as flawed paradigms, imperfect frameworks for understanding the underlying reality of the universe which pale in comparison to the glorious truth grasped by the Enlightened.

Gestalt Component Classes: Factotum and Enlightened Mage.

Adventures: An Enlightened mage is engaged in a battle of wills with reality, aware that he can reshape the world to suit his whims. This fact leads many to see adventuring as a chance to test their abilities and prove their mastery of reality. Others are driven to reshape the world with more than just their spells, seeing adventuring as a chance to accomplish such change, be it directly or indirectly (the treasures from many dungeons, after all, are enough to found, or destroy, small kingdoms).
Whatever their reasons for choosing the life of adventure, Enlightened Mages tend to have brief but spectacularly memorable careers, their bodies inevitably succumbing to the backlash from forcibly altering reality, but not before affect great change across the width and breadth of the world.

Alignment: An understanding of the world's true, mutable nature, requires no specific alignment, but knowing that the nature of reality can be changed at will runs contrary to any belief in an inherent order. The vast majority of Enlightened Mages are thus of Chaotic alignment, and none are Lawful.

Religion: Some Enlightened Mages believe themselves to be the equals of the gods. Others believe the gods themselves are merely manifestations of their worshippers' shared vision. In either case, they find little comfort within the confines of a particular faith or the worship of a deity.

Background: Enlightened Mages are a diverse lot, coming from all races and backgrounds. They share in common a significant strength of will, and confidence in their own abilities. It takes some Enlightened Mages years of practice to master their powers, usually having discovered the path as part of their studies as wizards or archivists. Others have an inborn talent for Enlightened magic, though those who grow up with such power often fall victim to backlash before mastering the subtleties required for a battle of wits with the universe.

Races: An enlightened mage can be of any race. Humans, gnomes, half-elves, and half-orcs are most prone to the path, as their limited lifespans, natural curiosity, or lack of a place in the standing social order make them more prone to questioning the strictures governing interaction with the world. Elves, long-lived and static, are less likely to make this leap, as are law-and-order-minded dwarves or other such races, though those outcast from lawful societies tend to question their core beliefs, the first path on the road to Enlightenment.

Other Classes: While even a novice Enlightened Mage has the raw power and versatility necessary to survive as an adventurer, they find their greatest success when they work with allies whose abilities complement their own.
Wise Enlightened Mages respect the fighting prowess of men at arms of all sorts and quickly cultivate good working relationships with fighters, rangers, and barbarians... such individuals are particularly important given the difficulty of using enlightened magic while under attack. They are more reluctant to associate with monks and paladins, because while they respect their skills and dedication to their craft, they find it difficult to work with those who are so unswervingly dedicated to the structures and laws they themselves have transcended.
Enlightened Mages can and do work with druids and clerics, though they often come into conflict with both groups, as their interpretations of the true nature of the universe are often radically different. Still, so long as both parties agree to disagree, or at least agree to keep their opinions to themselves, there is no reason they cannot enjoy long and fruitful partnerships.
The same cannot usually be said of relationships between Enlightened Mages and more traditional arcane spellcasters. Wizards, with their reliance on mystic formulas and practiced, repetitive gestures and incantations, generally despise Enlightened Mages and disparage them as out of control amateurs with no understanding of the forces they unleash upon the world. For their part, Enlightened Mages see wizards as hidebound weaklings, simpletons forced to rely on musty tomes and alchemical formulas as one-legged men are forced to rely on crutches. Sorcerers and Enlightened Mages enjoy a slightly better relationship, as the members of both groups respect one anotherís ability to directly tap into the primal magic of the universe. Still, it is the rare Enlightened Mage who considers a sorcerer his equal; most see them as inferiors who lack that essential spark of genius which would allow them to truly sculpt magic at will.

Abilities: Nothing matters more to an Enlightened Mage than his ability to understand the underlying mutability of the world to bend reality to his whims. Accordingly, Intelligence is the key ability of Enlightened Mages.
The ravages of Enlightened magic on the body are more severe than what is faced by other arcane casters, and thus Constitution is also of value to an Enlightened mage.

Hit Die: d8
Class Skills: All +1d6.
Skill Points Per Level: 6 + Int modifier.
Code:
 
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special    
1 +0 +2 +2 +2 Enlightened magic, inspiration, cunning insight, cunning knowledge, trapfinding.    
2 +1 +3 +3 +3 Bonus feat.    
3 +2 +3 +3 +3 Brains over brawn, cunning defense    
4 +3 +4 +4 +4 Cunning strike.    
5 +3 +4 +4 +4 Multiple Effects (2), understanding of divinity    
6 +4 +5 +5 +5 -    
7 +5 +5 +5 +5 -    
8 +6/+1 +6 +6 +6 Enlightened Countermagic, cunning surge.    
9 +6/+1 +6 +6 +6 -    
10 +7/+2 +7 +7 +7 Multiple Effects (3), understanding of divinity (+1 use)    
11 +8/+3 +7 +7 +7 Cunning Breach    
12 +9/+4 +8 +8 +8 Bonus feat    
13 +9/+4 +8 +8 +8 Cunning dodge.    
14 +10/+5 +9 +9 +9 -    
15 +11/+6/+1 +9 +9 +9 Multiple Effects (4), understanding of divinity (+1 use)    
16 +12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +10 Improved cunning defense    
17 +12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +10 -    
18 +13/+8/+3 +11 +10 +11 -    
19 +14/+9/+4 +11 +10 +11 Cunning brilliance.    
20 +15/+10/+5 +12 +10 +12 Multiple Effects (5), understanding of divinity (+1 use)


Class Features
All the following are class features of the Enlightened Mage class.

Weapon and Armour Proficiencies: The Enlightened Mage is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, as well as light armour and shields (but not tower shields). A Enlightened Mage who chooses to wear armour or bear a shield is more 'grounded' in reality and cannot feel the flow of energy as well as he should; he suffers the same chance for arcane spell failure as other arcane spellcasters do, though the consequences for failure are considerably more dire (see below).

Inspiration: Enlightened mage gains inspiration points per encounter as follows:
Code:
 
Enlightened Mage Level Inspiration Points
1 3
2 4
3 4
4 5
5 6
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 9
10 10
11 10
12 11
13 11
14 13
15 13
16 13
17 14
18 15
19 15
20 18


Cunning Insight (Ex): Spend 1 inspiration point to add Int modifier (+4) competence bonus to a single attack, damage, or saving throw.

Cunning Knowledge (Ex): Spend 1 inspiration point to add Int modifier (+4) competence bonus to a skill check where you already have one rank. May only be used for a single skill once per day, but may be used multiple times for different skills.

Trapfinding (Ex): Enlightened Mages (like rogues and only rogues) can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20. Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. Enlightened Mages can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A Enlightened Mage who beats a trapís DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with his party) without disarming it.

Enlightened Magic: Beginning at 1st level, the Enlightened Mage gains the ability to impose his will uponthe universe, to create nearly unlimited magical effects.

Bonus Feat: At 2nd level, and again at 12th level, the Enlightened Mage gains an Enlightened Mage bonus feat from the following list: Enlightened Casting Focus, Enlightened Element Focus, Enlightened Element Specialization, Coincidental Magic, Iron Will, Subtle Enlightened Magic).

Brains over Brawn: Add Int bonus as a modifier to Strength checks, Dexterity checks, and checks involving skills based on Str or Dex.

Cunning Defense: Spend 1 inspiration point to gain Int bonus to AC vs 1 opponent for 1 round as a free action. Can be used more than once per round, but only against a different opponent each time.

Cunning Strike: Spend 1 inspiration point before making an attack roll to deal 1d6 points sneak attack damage. For targets with uncanny dodge, Enlightened Mage level counts as rogue level.

Understanding of Divinity: Like the spells of wizards, enlightened mages view the divine magics of clerics and gods as merely imperfect paradigms for chanelling the true power of the universe. While healing is incredibly complex, difficult for an Enlightened Mage to accomplish, starting at 5th level they may begin to replicate some of the healing and turning magics accessible to divine casters. For 1 inspiration point as a standard action, an Enlightened Mage may: heal an amount of damage equal to ([Enlightened mage level x2] + Int bonus) with a touch (they may target themselves); they may attempt to turn or rebuke undead as a cleric of level = to their Enlightened Mage level; they may deal an amount of damage equal to ([Enlightened mage level x2] + Int bonus) to an undead creature by way of a touch attack. An Enlightened Mage may use Understanding Divinity a number of times per day equal to 3 + Wis bonus, increasing by an additional use per day at 10th, 15th, and 20th levels.

Multiple Effects: Beginning at 5th level, he can weave two spell effects into every casting. At 10th, 15th and again at 20th level, the Enlightened Mage adds an additional spell effect to each casting, so that at twentieth level he can cast a spell with fully five unique spell effects.

Enlightened Countermagic: Beginning at 8th level, the Enlightened Mage can counter any static magic spell effect. This is identical to the counterspell ability of traditional arcane casters, with the following exceptions.
A Enlightened Mage need never attempt a Spellcraft skill check when attempting to counter a spell. He makes a caster check against a DC of 10 + the spellís level. A successful caster check means that the spell is countered, while a failed check leaves the Enlightened Mage vulnerable to backlash (see below).
Enlightened countermagic is capable of countering any spell, even those which are not normally affected by counterspell. When used to counter such a spell, increase the spellís effective level by one.
Enlightened countermagic can never be used to disrupt divine spellcasting... belief in one's deity is a far more potent force than belief in spell formulae.

Cunning Surge: Spend 3 inspiration points to take an extra standard action during your turn.

Cunning Breach: Spend 2 inspiration points as a free action to ignore the spell resistance and damage reduction of a single target for 1 round. All resistance/reduction-related rolls made by the target automatically fail.

Cunning Dodge: Once per day, when the Enlightened Mage would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, they may spend 4 inspiration points as an immediate action to ignore the damage.

Improved Cunning Defense: Gain Int bonus to AC.

Cunning Brilliance: Select 3 extraordinary abilities from other classes each day. For 4 inspiration points as a free action, use one of those abilities for 1 minute.

Quote:
 
Paradigm Shift
An enlightened mage casts spells by understanding the underlying truth of the universe... other approaches, while sometimes more easily grasped, are veils of deception thrown over that truth. If an Enlightened Mage takes any levels in another spellcasting class (arcane or divine), they must quiet their questioning minds and accept a falsehood as truth, losing their Enlightened powers in doing so. They keep their BAB, save bonuses, proficiencies, and trapfinding from the Enlightened Mage class, but lose access to all other features/spells/traits of the class.


ENLIGHTENED MAGIC

What follows are the basic instructions for choosing and casting Enlightened magic effects. Each step lays out all the options and choices available to the character, and to the player, allowing him to make informed choices.
Each option is presented in the following fashion:

Effect Descriptor Ė the name of the effect.
Casting DC Ė the number added to the total DC of the spell, which must be overcome by an Enlightened Mageís casting check to successfully cast the spell.
Save Ė The saving throw permitted to overcome or reduce the effect, if applicable.
Spell Resistance Ė if applicable.
Continued Concentration Ė Whether the effect requires the Enlightened Mage to concentrate throughout the effectís duration or not.
Effect Description Ė specific details of the effect, including relevant mechanics.
There are six steps to creating and, ultimately, casting a Enlightened magic spell. An overview of each step is listed below, with an in-depth presentation of each immediately following the overview.

Step Overview

Step 1: Choose an Element Effect
All Enlightened magic spells have a final effect and this final effect is what you will select first. Do you want to burn your enemies with fire? Teleport miles outside their grasp? Or do you wish to charm them into submission? You will decide that here.

Step 2: Choose an Area of Effect Element
All Enlightened magic spell effects have a designated area of effect, from effects that target only the caster or another individual, to spells which encompass wide swathes of terrain or hordes of beings.

Step 3: Choose a Range Element
All Enlightened magic spells require a range element. While it is relatively simple for an Enlightened Mage to use an effect against a target right in front of him, he does not have to. A skilled Enlightened Mage can launch effects across a distance of miles.

Step 4: Choose a Duration Element
Most Enlightened magic effects are instantaneous, with the effects occurring and then ending, in the space between breaths. Should he choose to, however, an Enlightened Mage can weave effects that last for minutes, or even hours. There is no way for an Enlightened Mage to create a permanent effect, though, as the nature of the changes wrought upon reality by his will is different than those brought about by magic.

Step 5: Choose a Saving Throw Element
There are many magical defences to thwart spellcasters, but the Enlightened Mage has the unique ability to overwhelm them through sheer force of will. This step is where he can decide to do so, at the cost of making his spell much more difficult to cast.

Step 6: Choose Spell Triggers
Spells activated only under restricted conditions are easier to shape than those which are more versatile. Such conditions, or 'triggers', can be selected in this step.

Step 7: Casting the Spell
The final step in the creation process is the actual casting of the Enlightened magic spell. To cast the spell, the player should add together the DC numbers received by selecting options in steps one through five. The total of these numbers is the final DC which must be overcome by the Enlightened Mage with a caster check to successfully cast the effect. If the check is successful, the spell goes off as expected, subject to the vagaries of its interacting with the target and other spell effects.
While the casting will be discussed in greater detail later, it is worth noting that the casting check to successfully cast a Enlightened magic spell is Enlightened Mageís class level + Intelligence bonus + 1d20 vs the total spell effect DC.




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Crazy Steve again
 
Step 1: Choose an Element Effect:
Direct Damage Effects
The most straightforward tool in the Enlightened Mageís arsenal, a damage effect is a simple expulsion of energy, a twisting of reality to damage or destroy objects and enemies.When combining multiple damage effects into the same spell, the Enlightened Mage may never cause more than 2d8 hit points per Enlightened Mage level. Thus, a 20th-level Enlightened Mage could never cause more than 40d8 hit points of damage from a single spell, regardless of the number or types of damage effects he applied to the spell, and a 10th-level Enlightened Mage is limited to 20d8 hit points of damage, total, for a given spell. Degrading damage effects must have a by round duration in order to deliver their full damage. If a duration is not chosen for a degrading damage effect, it deals its initial blast of damage (one-half the Hit Dice of damage caused by the effect), but no more.
-Raw Damage Effect-
Casting DC: 10
Save: Fort half
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
Raw Damage is the most straightforward effect an Enlightened Mage can produce, a simple expulsion of violent energy directed at one or more targets. Raw Damage is subtle as a hammer to the face, but also an effective asÖ a hammer to the face. Raw Damage effect spells inflict 1d8 points of damage per caster level, though an Enlightened Mage can intentionally choose to inflict less damage.
-Persistent Damage Effect-
Casting DC: 5
Save: Fort half
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: Yes
Rather than create a spell effect which instantaneously delivers all its damage, an Enlightened Mage can choose to craft a spell which causes a gradually escalating amount of damage, until it reaches its full potential over several roundsí time. Spells of this effect element take longer to deliver damage, but are easier to cast than single blasts of energy. The Persistent Damage effect causes a single 1d8 points of damage upon the target, or targets, in the round that it is cast, with the damage increasing by 1d8 on each subsequent round until all available damage has been dealt. Persistent Damage spells inflict a total of 1d8 per caster level, as Direct Damage spells do, though an Enlightened Mage can of course choose to do less damage.
Another advantage of persistent spell effects is that the victim is required to attempt a new save each round he receives damage. The result of each save, positive or negative, applies only to the damage inflicted that round.
To make record keeping easier, it is recommended that the Enlightened Mageís player set aside a number of dice equal to the damage dealt by the Persistent Damage effect, removing and rolling dice from the pool each round. When the final dice have been rolled, the spell is complete.
For example: A 6th level Enlightened Mage casts a persistent spell at an unsuspecting ogre. The spell inflicts just 1d8 points of damage in the first round, with the ogre saving for half damage immediately. In the second round, the spell inflicts 2d8 points of damage, with the ogre saving against the damage as before. In the third round, the spell inflicts 3d8 damage, and the ogre rolls to save one final time. The third round is the final round of spell duration, as the spell has inflicted a total of 6d8 of damage, and thus there are no more dice of damage to inflict. Had the Enlightened Mage been 7th level, In the fourth round the spell would have inflicted a single die of damage, for a total of 7d8.
Persistent Damage effects need not be combined with a By Round Duration element. They continue to inflict normal damage each round, until their limit is reached as normal.
-Degrading Damage Effect-
Casting DC: 10
Save: Fort half
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: Yes
Spells of this effect deliver an initial blast of arcane energy which lingers for multiple rounds, inflicting a reduced amount of harm each round until it dissipates.
In the first round, the spell does one-half the casterís Enlightened Mage level in d8s of damage, one die less than that in the following round, then continues to drop by 1d8 per round after that until no more dice remain. As with a Persistent Damage effect, the victim is required to make a new save each round, with the results applying only to the damage inflicted in that round.
Degrading Damage effect is very powerful, with the potential to inflict a great deal of damage. Still, it has its limits and no spell using the Degrading Damage effect can ever inflict more than 30d8 total damage. In addition, while an Enlightened Mage using Degrading Damage spells can potentially inflict more damage than with a Direct Damage spell, he may not get the chance to Ė the retaliation from an enemy who survives the halved first round of damage could be enough to disrupt the Enlightened Mageís concentration or kill him outright, ending the spell prematurely.
For example: A 10th level Enlightened Mage casts a Degrading Damage effect on a small dragon. In the first round, the spell inflicts 5d8 damage, or half the total potential damage of the spell. In the second round, the spell inflicts one die less damage, or 4d8.
In the third round it inflicts 3d8, in the fourth 2d8, and in the fifth and final round, 1d8 points of damage. The total damage inflicted is 5d8 + 4d8 + 3d8 + 2d8 + 1d8 = 15d8 damage.
Degrading Damage effects must be combined with a By Round Duration element, or they dissipate immediately upon inflicting the first round of damage.
-Nonlethal Damage Effect-
Casting DC: +2
Using damaging spell energy to subdue, rather than slay, requires subtlety, finesse and restraint. Any of the damage effects listed above can be altered to inflict nonlethal, rather than killing, damage, but the base casting DC is increased by +2.
-Personal Immunity Effect-
Casting DC: +2
It simply would not do for an Enlightened Mage to fall victim to his own power, or at least, not more often then he already does. Adding personal immunity to his damage inflicting spells allows him to centre explosions of energy on himself, which is very handy for destroying foes who dare come too close.
-Damage Type Effect-
Normally, Enlightened magic damage effects inflict force damage. If the caster wills it, however, the damage inflicted can be changed to fire, cold, electric, sonic or acid. To alter the damage type in this fashion increases the casting DC by +1.

Domination Effects
Enlightened magicians can bend and change the perceptions of those around them. At the lowest levels, Enlightened magic can force victims to undertake actions they would not normally consider, while the most powerful effects can completely rearrange the targetís mental pathways, altering their personalities and very souls, on a fundamental level.
Generally, Domination effects are considered mindaffecting spell effects. With the Games Masterís permission, and with suitable justification and explanation, a player could conceivably invent an effect which is not mind-affecting.
Negligible Effect
Casting DC: 5
Save: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continuous Concentration: No
A Negligible Domination effect is a bit of mental sleight of hand, a soft nudge able to influence, but not control, a target. A Negligible Domination effect can be used to create the following effects, as well as others:
A Negligible Domination effect can cause a target, or targets, to involuntarily speak one word for every class level the Enlightened Mage possesses. The victims can be forced to speak any words, in any language that either the caster or the victim knows, but they cannot be forced to utter words which cause magical effects, such as verbal components. If multiple victims are affected by the spells, they can only be forced to speak the same phrase, or phrases.
Once the target has spoken the words, there is nothing stopping them from immediately denying what was said Ė save another Domination effect. A Negligible Domination effect can impose an enhancement bonus or penalty on an Intelligence, Intelligence, or Charisma-based skill check. The penalty or bonus is equal to +1 or -1 per two class levels, to a maximum of +/-5.
A Negligible effect can create over-confidence in a target, or targets, causing them to neglect their defence against Ďinferiorí opponents, suffering a Ė1 penalty to their Armour Class per 2 caster levels, to a maximum -5 penalty.
A Negligible Domination effect can inspire trust or distrust. A successful casting can impose a bonus or penalty to non-player character reaction checks, equal to +1 or -1 per two caster levels, to a maximum of +/-5.
Minor Effect
Casting DC: 10
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continuous Concentration: No
Minor Domination effects are more insidious than Negligible effects and are capable of, albeit temporarily, seizing control of the victimís mind. Minor Domination effects can be used to perform, but are not limited to, the following actions:
A minor effect can create self-doubt in an opponent, forcing them to fight defensively. For the length of the Duration element, the target must choose the defensive casting or fight defensively actions.
A minor effect can be used to temporarily charm a target, as the spell.
A minor effect can be used to enrage an opponent, forcing them to charge into close combat. Those who fail to save must move with all haste into melee range, and must attack with full attack actions once they are there. Each time they are attacked or struck, they are permitted a new Will save to shake off the effect.
A minor effect can be used to cause fear, causing them to flee for 1d4 rounds. This is a mind-affecting, fear effect.
A minor effect can overload an opponentís senses, stunning them temporarily. A victim who fails to save is considered to be stunned for the Duration element.
A minor effect can force creatures to believe your words to be truth, though not in face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Major Effect
Casting DC: 15
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continuous Concentration: See below
A major effect can have lasting implications on the target. A major Domination effect can be used to accomplish the following goals, among many others:
A major Domination effect can alter a targetís alignment for the Duration element. The Enlightened Mage can alter alignments only along the chaosĖ neutralĖlaw axis (so he cannot make a target evil, for instance).
A major Domination effect can resculpt a single memory. For each round of the Duration element, the Enlightened Mage can permanently alter one of the targetís memories as he sees fit. Note that this memory is changed only in a single context. You could, for example, change a memory so that the target remembers seeing you at a bazaar, rather than in the middle of his alchemical laboratory. You could not, however, change his memory so that he never remembered seeing you at all, because the memory of your face is tied in with other memories, such as his remembering that he does not much care for you.
This Domination effect basically twists the targetís memory and then leaves it twisted Ė but every time a character is confronted with the true memory (such as someone reminding him), he is allowed a further Will saving throw.
A major Domination effect can force unwanted emotions on the target, or targets. The Enlightened Mage can create feelings of love, hate, distrust or absolute adoration, either between victims of the spell, or between victims and some other designated being, object or belief.
A major Domination effect can seize control of a targetís mind for the length of the Duration element. The target is allowed a Will save against any activity you choose to undertake which is directly harmful to his person, or which is strongly against his belief. This effect requires continuous concentration.
Extraordinary Effect
Casting DC: 20
Save: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continuous Concentration: See below
Extraordinary Domination effects are powerful enough to change the fate of nations. Among other things, an extraordinary Domination effect can accomplish the following:
It can fundamentally alter the nature of a beingís core beliefs. For the length of the Duration element, the victimís alignment, both along the law vs chaos and good vs evil axis, can be altered to whatever the Enlightened Mage desires.
An extraordinary Domination effect can shut down a victimís mind entirely. For the length of the Duration element, the victimís Intelligence and Intelligence scores are reduced by up to the Enlightened Mageís caster level, to a minimum of 1.

Materialisation Effects
Materialisation effect elements allow the Enlightened Mage to fashion solid items from the fabric of reality. Objects created in this fashion usually appear wholly unnatural Ė or perhaps it is better to say that they appear utterly alien in their pure, otherworldly naturalness. Materialised objects are roughly as strong and dense as bronze, though they would never be mistaken for that metal.
Materialised objects can be made to appear anywhere within the range of the spell and do not have to appear in the same place should more than one object be created in the casting.
Objects created with the Materialisation effect must have enough space to allow for their materialisation Ė a spiked ball cannot be made to materialise inside the skull of a target, for example, because there is simply not enough space for it. In addition, all Materialisation effects must be linked to a Duration element of at least One Round, lest they disappear the instant they are created.
All materialised objects created with this effect element will radiate a magical aura, for the purposes of detect magic and similar spells, though they have no inherent magical properties.
Images and sounds created by Materialisation effects are considered to be mind-affecting spell effects for the purposes of determining what may be affected by them.
The difficulty of a Materialisation effect is directly linked to the size of the object, or objects, to be created. The increasing levels of effect that can be generated with this effect element are listed below.
Negligible Effect
Casting DC: 5
Save: None
Spell Resistance: No
Continued Concentration: No
A single item of up to an ounce of weight per caster level can be created. Alternately, the Enlightened Mage can generate a quiet noise, roughly equal to a soft cough, or a very dim light equivalent to a candle can be materialised.
The sound created by a Negligible Materialisation effect is sufficient to awaken sleeping beings, so long as they are not under the effects of magical sleep.
A Negligible effect is sufficient to create a simple servant construct with an equivalent Strength of 3. This construct can perform a single task, determined at the time of casting, but is largely immaterial and disperses immediately if attacked.
A Negligible Effect can create a globe of light (of any colour) that floats in the air near the Enlightened Mage. If this spell has an area of effect, the globe may move within that area of effect at 100 feet per round. If directed to move outside this area of effect, the light is immediately extinguished. The globe provides light equal to a candle.
A Negligible Materialisation effect can produce a cloud of darkness that clings to any light source in the area, preventing it from operating while the spell is in effect. Note that this spell cannot affect natural sources of light, such as the sun or moon.
-Minor Effect-
Casting DC: 10
Save: None
Spell Resistance: No
Continued Concentration: No
A single item, weighing no more than one pound per caster level, can be created from the fabric of reality. This level of effect is also sufficient to generate a noise equivalent to armour clanking on stone, or strangely-inflected, monosyllabic speech. Alternately, it can create a multi-coloured light equivalent to a lantern.
A minor Materialisation effect is sufficient to create any of the following:
A shield of force that provides three-quarters cover from any missile attack directed at the target and completely blocks any single-target spells with a missile effect (such as magic missile, merfís acid arrow, or similar spells) unless the caster of that spell defeats the Enlightened Mage in an opposed caster-level check. If this effect is given an area of effect, it blocks attacks from one direction only, though the Enlightened Mage may change the direction protected against at the beginning of each round as a free round action.
The Enlightened Mage may create a weapon, or weapons, so long as they do not weigh more than one pound per caster level. The weapon is considered to be of masterwork quality, and treated as a magic weapon for purposes of overcoming damage reduction.
A minor Materialisation effect can create a suit of armour from nothing. The suit provides a +1 armour bonus for every two Enlightened Mage class levels, to a maximum bonus of +5, to the caster or to each creature in the area of effect. Armour created in this fashion is weightless and causes neither armour check penalties, or spell failure. In order to create a suit of armour in this fashion, the Enlightened Mage must be able to produce items weighing no less than five pounds, meaning he must be of at least 5th level. The bonuses from a suit of such armour replace, rather than stack with, those gained from normal armour, but do stack with those gained by a shield.
A minor Materialisation effect can create a cloud of smoke, confetti, or sparkling energy that obscures sight into and out of the affected area. The cloud fills an area equal to the spellís area of effect Ė all creatures within the area of effect have total concealment from those outside the effect, and vice versa.
Auditory effects created by a minor Materialisation effect can mimic speech, in any language in which the caster is fluent, but the sound is always recognisably not natural. The sound can be heard up to 20 feet from its point of origin, and can originate from anywhere within the spellís area of effect, if an area of effect element has been chosen. The materialised speech lasts a maximum of 2 seconds per caster level, and repeats in an endless loop throughout the spellís duration.
A servant construct with an equivalent Strength of 4 can be created with a minor Materialisation effect, subject to the restrictions listed under Negligible
effects.
Any images created at this level of effect can be used to spell out words or present other fine details, but are certainly not able to accurately mimic even a simple painting of a creature, much less the creature itself. The image pattern can hold multiple colours, however, and is more than able to convey complex concepts and images as envisioned by the spellcaster. The images created by this spell can move around within the area of effect, but can be no longer than 2 seconds per caster level. Images created will repeat throughout the duration of the spell.
Moderate Effect
Casting DC: 15
Save: None
Spell Resistance: No
Continued Concentration: No
At this level of effect, the Enlightened Mage can create one or more items with a maximum combined weight of two pounds per level of the caster. Alternately, a moderate effect can produce loud and complex sounds, or normal human-sounding speech. If the caster wishes, he can instead summon up spectral lights in a variety of colours, with brightness equivalent to a daylight spell.
Moderate effects are considerably more powerful and versatile than Negligible or Minor Materialisation effects. an Enlightened Mage who successfully casts a moderate effect can achieve, but is not limited to, any of these effects:
A moderate effect can duplicate an item accurately. It will replicate an item exactly, though it cannot duplicate magical properties. This sort of duplication is useful for creating items like keys, or puzzle pieces, as it duplicates them to the smallest detail, but the item will still appear unnatural to the naked eye. Conversely, one can also accurately duplicate any one object and all of its properties (magical or otherwise). However, while your duplicate is materialised, the original object may not be used in any way, or the duplicate is disrupted.
A moderate effect can create breathable air within the radius of effect. This air has positive pressure that prevents poisonous gases or other fine materials from entering the surrounded creatureís respiratory system and is powerful enough to allow breathing underwater. Those within the area of effect gain a +1 per two class level bonus to saves against poisonous gas effects, to a maximum bonus of +5.
Weapons created with a moderate effect are considered to be magical weapons for the purposes of piercing damage reduction.
A moderate effect can create a rudimentary servant construct with an effective Strength of 7. This construct can obey a single simple order, chosen at the time of creation. It is physically unstable and disappears if struck.
Images created with moderate effects appear real to the eyes, though a successful Will save allows the viewer to perceive the illusion for what it is. Images of this power have a tactile element as well, strong enough to create a sense of solidity. A successful Will save, however, allows those who come in contact with the image to not only resist its sensation, but the tactile element of any other images you create within the next 24 hours. As with minor effects, images created by a moderate Materialisation effect can be made to move and alter their shape, and can be as large as the spellís total area of effect.
Auditory illusions created by a moderate Materialisation effect can be of a maximum volume equal to a grown man shouting. Speech generated by a moderate effect sounds natural to the ear, and can be of any length up to and including the full duration of the spell.
A moderate Materialization effect can create a glue-like substance (glue, spiderwebs, etc) throughout an area. Any target who fails their save against the effect is stuck fast to these strands and is unable to move or take any other action until they have freed themselves. Freeing yourself from this mass of sticky material requires a successful Strength or Escape Artist check (DC 15 + 1 per Enlightened Mage level of the caster). Once freed, the target may take a single 5-foot step Ė though if this step moves the creature into another area affected by this spell he must make his Saving throw or the process begins again. If this spell is cast upon a single target, the target (once freed) is not affected by the same spell again, even if it moves back into the area where the spell was originally in effect.
Major Effect
Casting DC: 20
Save: None
Spell Resistance: No
Continued Concentration: No
A major Materialisation effect is sufficient to create objects with a maximum combined weight of five pounds per caster level. The items can also be imbued with sounds equivalent to a lionís roar, or colours and light equivalent to the noon-day sun. Major Materialisation effects are truly powerful, as befits a spell effect so difficult to pull off. Major effects include, but are not limited to, the following:
A major Materialisation effect can create a wall of pure energy, the size of one 10 feet cube per four caster levels. The cube may be shaped in any manner desired by the Enlightened Mage, and has hardness 5 and 10 hit points per 10 feet square per inch of thickness. This means that a 10 feet cube has 1,200 hit points.
A major effect can create a suit of armour that provides a +1 armour bonus per two caster levels, to a maximum bonus of +10. The suit is otherwise subject to the restrictions listed under minor Materialisation effects.
An image summoned by a major manifestation is effectively real. At this level, the Enlightened Mage can create any sound or image he can conceive, and it will appear exactly as the actual object or creature, with no unnatural traces. Those who know the image is false, or those who succeed at a Will save, see through the sensory illusion, and are only marginally affected by it. The Enlightened Mage can create creatures of up to his caster level in hit dice, which can move freely as directed within the area of effect. Targets struck by the creature are allowed a Will save each time a blow connects Ė success means they suffer only a single hit point of damage. Major image manifestations can also mimic damaging effects, such as fireballs, with the targets suffering only a single point of damage if they succeed at a Will save when Ďstruckí by the effect.
Weapons created with major Materialisation effect are considered to be magical weapons for the purposes of piercing damage reduction. Alternately, they can be created to mimic any one or two of the following special properties: anarchic, holy or unholy (as appropriate to the mageís alignment), alchemical silver, adamantine or cold iron.

Movement Effects
The ability to move nearly instantaneously from place to place is a powerful one and a huge boon to parties of adventurers. an Enlightened Mage can, through sheer force of will, reshape concepts of space and time around himself, willing allies, and even unwilling targets. A skilled Enlightened Mage can step behind a rock and reappear at the bottom of the ocean, or hurl himself from a cliff top and come to rest on the soft earth of an extra-dimensional moon.
The difficulty of a Movement effect is directly related to the distance to be travelled Ė the further the voyage, the more difficult the element is to incorporate into a casting.
It is safer for an Enlightened Mage to only move himself with his powers, for those of lesser will can become trapped within consensual reality and be lost in the impossibility of their circumstances. Non-Enlightened Mages who are targeted with Movement effects must succeed at a Fortitude save against a DC of 15 or suffer nonlethal damage as follows: Minor effect 1d8; Moderate effect 2d8; Major effect 3d8; Extreme 4d8; Universal 5d8. Rolling a Ď1í on the Fortitude results in the damage being lethal, not nonlethal.
Enlightened Mages can also use Movement effects to boost their alliesí speed, or to slow or even paralyse opponents.
Movement effects with Duration elements can be used in either of the following two fashions:
Ü The movement occurs slowly, over the course of the spellís Duration element. When used in this fashion, the total movement should be divided as evenly as possible, with any remaining movement occurring in the last round of the spellís duration. The speed of movement cannot be altered in any fashion, save by the use of another spell.
Ü The Movement effect can work at up to full value in any round of the Duration element, as a move equivalent action. This allows for very rapid movement, up to and including flight (see below). When used in this fashion, the spell ends when the full potential value of its movement is reached.
Spells of this sort include a protective element; should the recipient find himself in mid-air when the spell ends, he floats to the ground over the course of one round, as though by a feather fall spell.
Minor Effect
Casting DC: 10
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
A minor Movement effect is sufficient to allow the caster or an amount of weight equal to 10 x his caster level to move a maximum distance of 20 feet + 5 feet per caster level.
In addition, a minor Movement effect can be used to produce a number of related effects, including, but not limited to, those presented below:
The spell effect can be used to open or shut a door, window, flap, pouch or any other object which can be opened or closed. The effect will not lock or unlock the target object, and is restricted to moving objects no heavier than 10 x the Enlightened Mageís caster level in pounds.
The spell effect can create a field which presents creatures of a designated sex, racial type or other visible identifying characteristic from touching the target of the spell or moving with the area of effect of the spell. This prevents unarmed attacks, but will not prevent the use of ranged attacks or attacks with reach by the prohibited creature. Multiple stacked effects of this sort must be overcome individually, should a creature belong to more than one banned group.
The Enlightened Mage can Ďthrowí his voice by folding reality to create a conduit. His words are transmitted instantly from his mouth to the targeted creature or area of effect, and can only be heard by those within that area.
A minor Movement effect can increase or decrease a targetís base speed by 5 feet + 1 feet per caster level, to a maximum of +/Ė 15 feet. Speed cannot be reduced below 5 feet in this fashion.
A minor Movement effect can grant a +1 per caster level bonus (to a maximum of +10), to saves against all spells and spell-like effects which impede movement, and render the recipient immune to the effects of terrain and conditions which normally hinder movement. A person so enhanced can move at full normal speed regardless of terrain conditions, though they gain no special immunity to environmental damage.
A minor Movement effect can grant a +1 per caster level bonus, to a maximum of +10, to all saves against environmental hazards and fatigue.
Moderate Effect
Casting DC: 15
Saves: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Concentration: No
A moderate Movement effect is sufficient to allow travel to a distance of 100 feet + 10 feet per caster level.
Alternately, a moderate Movement effect can be used to create related effects, including, but not limited to, those listed below:
The targets of the spell are anchored to the current plane of existence and are unable to leave unless they defeat the Enlightened Mage in an opposed caster level check, using either their spellcasting level or Will save (their choice). Creatures with natural extradimensional movement powers use their hit dice as their caster level for the purposes of the check, unless their movement powers have a listed effective caster level.
The target object of this effect changes from open to closed. Suitable targets include pouches, windows, doors or any other object which can be open or closed. This will, if the caster wishes, automatically lock or unlock any one bar, lock, restraint, tie or other sealing device. Each additional sealing device to be locked or unlocked increases the DC of the effect by 1. Alternately, the caster can open or close any two objects, but will not be able to lock or unlock them with this spell effect.
All creatures are prevented from entering the nearby area (the size of the area is determined by the area effect attached to the spell), or from touching the targeted object or being. A Will save overcomes the effect and renders the one who saved immune to further moderate Movement effects of this sort for one day. Alternately, the effect can be reversed, preventing creatures from leaving the area of effect.
For the duration of the spell, all targeted creatures can communicate perfectly with one another, so long as they remain with 100 feet per caster level of the Enlightened Mage. Unaffected beings cannot hear the recipients of the spell at all, as their voices are directly transmitted from recipient to recipient. This is not a mind-affecting effect, nor is it telepathic in nature.
The target, or targets, of the Movement effect are able to climb up walls or across ceilings at their normal movement rate for the duration of the spell. If an area effect is added to the spell and it is targeted on an area, then any being can move across any surface of that area as though it were level ground.
A moderate effect can be used to grant a target an extra attack when making a full attack action. When augmented in this fashion, the recipientís base speed is increased by 1 feet per caster level. Conversely, it can be used to restrict a target, or targets, to a single standard or move action each turn. Those affected by this effect suffer a -1 feet per caster level penalty to their movement, to a minimum speed of 5 feet per round.
Major Effect
Casting DC: 20
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
A major Movement effect is sufficient to allow affected beings to move 500 feet + 50 feet per caster level. Alternately, a major Movement effect can be used to do the following:
The words of the recipient, or recipients, of the spell are transferred to one another over a distance of up to 10 miles + 1 mile per caster level. Unaffected beings cannot hear the recipients of the spell at all, as their voices are directly transmitted from recipient to recipient. This is not a mind-affecting effect, nor is it telepathic in nature.
A major Movement effect can be used to animate non-living objects, as by an animate object spell.
The total of the Enlightened Mageís caster check is the number of small objects which can be animated by the use of this effect. For the purposes of determining how many larger objects can be moved, use the equivalencies listed in the animate object spell.
A major effect can open or close a single object as long as its weight is no greater than 100 pounds + 50 pounds per level of the caster. This effect can also lock or unlock a single restraining device, such as a bar, lock, or tie.
Alternately, a major effect can be used to open or close, and lock and unlock, any number of objects no larger or heavier than a standard metal door. By increasing the DC by 1, the spell can automatically break a single enchanted lock, such as those of held or arcane locked doors.
Extreme Effect
Casting DC: 25
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
An extreme Movement effect is powerful enough to move recipients 1 mile + 1 mile per caster level. Alternately, it can be used to create other effects, including, but not limited to, the following examples:
An extreme Movement effect can transmit spoken language, instantaneously, to anywhere on the plane. Unaffected beings cannot hear the recipients of the spell at all, as their voices are directly transmitted from recipient to recipient. This is not a mindaffecting effect, nor is it telepathic in nature. A targeted creature which fails a Will save is instantaneously returned to its plane of origin.
A targeted area of ground or wall can be made to repel all beings who come within range. Beings who fail to save begin to levitate and are lifted up or pushed away at a rate of 1 feet per caster level per round, for the duration of the spell, or until they leave the area
of effect.
The Enlightened Mage may choose to deprive the target subject of all of its actions for the duration of this spell Ė targets so affected are treated as if paralyzed for the duration of the spell.
Universal Effect
Casting DC: 30
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
A universal effect is the most powerful of all Movement effects, sufficient to allow the Enlightened Mage, or those he designates as targets, to pierce the veil between worlds and travel to other dimensions. A single casting allows the targeted beings, to move to a dimension which is, cosmologically speaking, next to the one they are on.

Transformation Effect
At their simplest, Transformation effects are little tricks useful for cleanliness, or mending cloth or erasing spilled drops of ink and the like. At their most complex, Transformation effects can fundamentally alter the nature of reality, changing lead to gold and transforming man to beast with equal facility. It is with good reason, then, that men fear the transformative power of an enlightened mage.
Regardless of the strength of the effect, the total amount of material which may be transformed (physically or mentally) is equal to 20 pounds per level of the caster.
Many of the effects listed below allow the caster to grant or inflict a variety of bonuses or penalties to a subject. In every case, the exact bonuses and penalties may be specified by the caster, though the maximum bonus is equal to +1 or -1 per two caster levels.
All Transformation effects must be coupled with a Duration element. Those that do not include a Duration element can still transform their target, but the target returns to its original shape almost instantaneously, without adverse or positive effect.
Transformations cannot purposefully transform portions of an inanimate object. Only complete objects can be transformed with this effect. A door could be transformed independently of the wall it is built into, as the door is a complete object in and of itself. Conversely, a single hinge or nail in said door could not be transformed, as it is a component of the door. Additionally, no creature may be killed outright via a Transformation effect. If a creature is transformed into inanimate matter, raw energy, a non-living state or any other potentially lethal form, the creature reforms, unharmed, in its original location (unless removed by Movement effects or external forces) at the end of the effectís duration.
Living creatures can only be subject to one Transformation effect at any one time. The strongest (highest Transformation effect DC) will dispel all others when placed on a creature and weaker Transformation effects will be automatically resisted.

Negligible Effect
Casting DC: 5
Save: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
Negligible Transformation effects allow for nothing more than surface changes, or the most minor of benefits. Examples of these benefits include, but are not limited to:
A Negligible effect can clean or repair minor damage to an object. This includes repairing tears in fabric, fixing seams, closing small holes in metal, fixing chipped bits of wood or erasing stains and spots. A single application of a Negligible effect will repair all incidental damage on an object no larger than a travellerís cloak. This mends up to 1 hit point per two caster levels of damage to the object.
A Negligible effect can grant an enhancement bonus to a single saving throw for the duration of the effect. The specific saving throw is selected at the time of casting and the bonus is granted for the length of the Duration element attached, or until the recipient fails an enhanced save. A Negligible Transformation effect can alter the appearance of a subject or object, similar to the disguise self spell. The effect grants a bonus to all Disguise checks equal to +1 per two caster levels.
A Negligible Transformation effect can erase or create one written sentence per caster level, simply by altering the patterns on the written surface.
A Negligible Transformation effect can render any object or creature immune to the effects of 0 levels spells of all sorts, unless the caster of the 0 level spell defeats the Enlightened Mage in an opposed caster level check.
Minor Effect
Casting DC: 10
Save: Will Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
Minor Transformation effects are both powerful and dangerous. At this level of effect, an Enlightened Mage may, among other things:
Grant an enhancement bonus or penalty to all saves, to Armour Class, or to a single ability score. The maximum granted bonus is equal to +1 per two Enlightened Mage caster levels.
Grant resistance to a specific type of energy (acid, cold, electric, fire or sonic) equal to +1 per caster level.
A minor effect can be used to deafen or blind a target, or targets, for the duration of the effect. Alternately, the effect can be used to restore vision and hearing Ė if the loss of senses was caused by a magical effect, then that effect is permanently dispelled, but if the blindness or deafness was natural, then the restoration lasts only so long as the Duration element.
The targets, of a minor effect can be rendered immune to all spells of a given school for the duration of the effect, unless the caster of the spell defeats the Enlightened Mage in an opposed caster level check. Alternately, the target, or targets, can be rendered immune to all 1st level spells of all schools, unless the caster defeats the Enlightened Mage in an opposed caster level check.
A minor effect can create a hole in a solid, non-living object of up to 1 foot in diameter and 1 foot in depth per class level. The targeted object receives a saving throw as normal.
A minor Transformation effect can render targets effectively invisible. The recipients cannot be seen by normal sight, though the effect ends immediately if the beneficiary attacks any target, casts a spell or does anything which draws attention to itself.
The target of the spell effect gains low-light vision or darkvision to a range of 10 feet per caster level. This ability does not allow the recipient to see through magical darkness.
The critical threat range of targeted weapons is increased by 2 steps (so a rapier increases its threat range from 18-20 to 16-20), as itís chances of dealing grievous damage are temporarily enhanced.
A minor effect can transform the state of non-living matter, albeit to a minor degree. It can transform matter into other, similar, forms of matter, which must be as supple or solid as the original form. So, for example, it can transform paper to cloth, or change oak to cedar, but could not transform water into rock. Non-living matter can only be transformed into a material which has the same hardness, or a hardness one point greater or less, than the original material.
All non-magical fires within the target effect are immediately extinguished. Alternately, the effect can be used to produce flame, as the spell at the Enlightened Mageís caster level.
Moderate Effect
Casting DC: 15
Saves: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
Moderate Transformation effects are capable of rendering massive changes in the target, warping their form and their flesh as easily as a potter shapes clay. Examples of moderate Transformation effects include:
Cause solid objects to become ethereal for the length of the Duration element. Living beings rendered ethereal by means of this effect cannot affect the physical world until the effect ends, but can interact with ethereal creatures as normal.
Grant the targeted being energy resistance to two forms of energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire or sonic), equal to 2 per three caster levels for the duration of the effect. Alternately, it grants 3 points of energy resistance per 2 class levels to any single form of energy.
A moderate Transformation effect can suppress a single magical quality (supernatural or spell-like) in an object or being for the duration of the effect, unless the target succeeds with its Will save. The magical quality is not permanently erased, simply suppressed, and take effect again immediately upon the Transformation effectís conclusion.
The target creature gains damage reduction equal to the casterís class level + 5, which is only susceptible to lawful or magical attacks.
The target creature, or creatures, gains the ability to see in darkness as though with low light vision or darkvision, to a range of 10 feet per caster level. The recipient also gains the ability to see through all magical forms of darkness, or through other magical\ effects which restrict vision. Alternately, the target creatures can be given the ability to see invisible and ethereal creatures.
A moderate effect can double the critical threat range of a target weapon, or weapons. This doubling does not apply to any increases already gained due to a minor Transformation effect.
A moderate effect can increase or decrease the size of a target object or creature by 10% per level of the caster, to a maximum of 50%. Note that the object or target can only expand to the limits of its environment, and only shrink until it meets the resistance of objects it contains. Therefore, this effect could not be used to crush a warrior in his own armour by reducing its size or increasing his. See the Transformation Size Modifiers table for the effects of increasing or decreasing the size of a creature or object.
A moderate effect can alter a subjectís form, in a similar manner to an alter self spell.
A moderate effect can convert the state of non-living matter, as a minor effect can, but on a greater level. At this level, the Enlightened Mage is not restricted to transforming objects to similar materials and can, should he so choose, transform stone to sand, or water to wood.
Code:
 
Transformation Size Modifiers

Size Change (in %) Height/Length Modifier Weight Modifier Str Modifier Hit Point Modifier (%)    
-90 x.1 x.01 -5 -45    
-80 x.2 x.02 -4 -40    
-70 x.3 x.03 -3 -35    
-60 x.4 x.06 -3 -30    
-50 x.5 x.12 -2 -25    
-40 x.6 x.22 -2 -20    
-30 x.7 x.34 -1 -15    
-20 x.8 x.50 -1 -10    
-10 x.9 x.75 -0 -5    
+10 x1.1 x1.3 +0 +5    
+20 x1.2 x1.7 +1 +10    
+30 x1.3 x2.2 +1 +15    
+40 x1.4 x2.7 +2 +20    
+50 x1.5 x3.4 +2 +25    
+60 x1.6 x4.1 +3 +30    
+70 x1.7 x4.9 +3 +35    
+80 x1.8 x5.8 +4 +40    
+90 x1.9 x6.9 +4 +45    
+100 x2 x8 +5 +50  


Total Effect
Casting DC: 20
Save: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
A total Transformation effect is startling in its comprehensiveness and sheer power. Among other uses, it can cause:
Target creatures or objects in the area to be rendered completely immune to all spells of 5th level or less for the length of the Duration element, unless the caster of the spell defeats the Enlightened Mage in an opposed caster check. Alternately, the target becomes immune to all spells, regardless of level, of a particular school, unless the caster wins an opposed caster check.
Alterations to a target, causing them to become wholly insubstantial. The recipient, as well as all carried equipment, are able to pass through even the smallest cracks or holes. While in this state, affected creatures can move at their normal movement rate, but are unable to fly or swim. They gain damage reduction 20/lawful and are unable to physically attack or cast spells which require material components.
Transformations of living beings into solid, nonliving materials. They gain hardness equal to 5, or the established hardness of the material if it is higher, but are rendered unable to move or act. A total Transformation effect can change raw materials into finished, crafted products. For example, a stick of wood could be transformed into a finely crafted staff. When combined with a second Transformation effect to convert materials into another form, the same stick of wood could become a longsword or battleaxe.
Non-living to be converted matter into another, dissimilar type Ė water into steel, or wood into air, for example.
Alternately, nonliving matter can simply be transformed into harmless, light based energy for the duration of the effect. A subject to gain the equivalent of improved invisibility for the length of the Duration element.
A total Transformation can grant an object an entirely new form, as though by the spells polymorph, polymorph any object or baleful polymorph. An increase or decrease to a targetís size by up to 100%. The table below lists the effects for increasing or decreasing an objectís size.

Reconstruction Effect
Casting DC: 30
Save: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
Continued Concentration: No
The ultimate expression of the transformative power of an enlightened mage's will. At this level of effect, items are refashioned as the Enlightened Mage wills. Weight can be increased by 10% per caster level, uniquely beneficial features can be added and the composition of the object can be changed in utterly unnatural ways.
At the moment of transformation, reality twists violently in a 20 foot radius around each target, causing 1d8 points of damage for every 20 pounds transformed, to a maximum of 10d8 damage, to everyone but the target. No creature with hit dice greater than the Enlightened Mageís class level may be affected, nor may inanimate objects which weigh more than 100 pounds per caster level.
Creatures altered by reconstruction can move between size categories, suffering bonuses or penalties to their Armour Class and base attack bonus modifiers as appropriate.
an Enlightened Mage can also use a reconstruction Transformation effect to disrupt and suppress all existing magical effects, subject to the Enlightened Mage overcoming all the original casters with a single opposed caster check. All spells or spell-like effects successfully overcome in this fashion are suppressed for the length of the Duration element.
Finally, a reconstruction Transformation effect can also be used to twist reality like taffy. A successful casting check allows the Enlightened Mage to alter the fundamental structure of reality, just like a wish spell. Material components are not needed to create such an effect, but the Enlightened Mageís transformations are still limited to impermanent effects.

Combining Multiple Effects:
Part of the Enlightened Mageís strength lies in his ability to combine multiple effects within a single casting.
This ability to modify spells on the fly gives the Enlightened Mage a versatility that traditional arcane casters simply cannot match. To determine the casting DC of a spell with more than one effect, first determine which effect begins with the lowest casting DC. Then, add one half of that lower DC (rounding up) to the casting DC of the other effect, which gives you the total effect element DC. In cases where two separate effects have the same casting DC, simply select one of them for the reduced cost. The effect with the reduced cost is referred to as the subsidiary effect.
As an Enlightened Mage grows in power, he gains the ability to blend third, fourth and fifth elements into his spells. When combining three or more elements, calculate the final casting DC just as you would with only two elements Ė namely, halve the values of all the subsidiary casting DCs, save the highest, and then add that amount to the highest effectís DC to determine the total casting DC. As before, these additional effects are considered to be subsidiary effects.
So, for example, an Enlightened Mage wishes to combine three elements, with casting DCs of 5, 10 and 15 together. To calculate the total casting DC, he divides the two lowest (5 and 10) in half, to 3 and 5 respectively, then adds them to the highest DC, for a final casting DC of 3 + 5 +15 = 23.
When multiple effects exist within a single spell, by default they all share the same area of effect, range, duration and saving throw elements, as well as sharing the ability to defeat spell resistance. An element that is always instantaneous (like the Raw Damage effect) may be included with effects of a differing duration, however, without penalty. This includes persistent and Degrading Damage effects, which last as long as is required to deliver their full damage, even if the rest of the spell effects end before that time.
It is also possible to stack multiple effects of the same type. It is not permitted, however, for multiple elements of the same type to be the only effects within the spell. If you are able to cast a spell containing three elements, for example, all three cannot be damage effect elements. Further, you cannot put two elements of the exact same type in the same spell. So you can have a spell with a Domination effect and two Transformation effects, but they must be Transformation effects of a different degree Ė one minor and one major, for example.

Step 2: Choose an Area of Effect Element

All Enlightened magic spells default to a single target. an Enlightened Mage, however, can extend his power across a wider area, provided he is willing to risk overreaching his ability to control the energy he summons. an Enlightened Mage can select any area of effect element, but must modify the casting DC of the spell, as noted below.
Each spell effect can, of course be modified by only one of the following areas of effect:
Single Target (DC +0)
The default setting for enlightened spells, the target may be either the Enlightened Mage himself or another person.
Two Targets (DC +3)
an Enlightened Mage can, if he so chooses, affect two different targets with a single spell. A spell with this area element must be coupled with a range of Touch, Close, Medium, Long or Extreme Ė the spell affects only those targets which are within its range, meaning spells which require the presence of both targets automatically fail to take effect if both targets are not within reach. This spell failure is independent of the casting check required to successfully weave the spell, meaning a spell which fizzles out due to one target being out of range does not cause backlash. The two targets of the spell must be chosen at the moment of casting.
For example, a minor Movement effect designed to instantaneously swap two beingsí positions will only work if both targets are within the spellís range. Should only one of the intended targets fall within the spellís range, then neither target is moved. Conversely, a Direct Damage spell which can affect two targets does not require the presence of both targets Ė it affects each target independently.
Burst (DC +5)
The minimum burst radius is 5 feet, and the maximum is equal to the caster level x 5 feet. The burst radius is chosen at the time of casting.
Cone (DC +5)
The minimum length of the cone is 10 feet, and the maximum is equal to caster level x 5 feet. The exact dimensions must be chosen at the moment of casting.
Spread (DC +10)
The minimum spread is 5 feet, and the maximum is equal to the casterís level x 5 feet. The exact dimensions of the spread must be chosen at the moment of casting.

Once an area of effect element has been chosen, it can be enhanced by the following modifiers. Each modifier comes with its own casting DC, which must be added to the total casting check DC of the spell.
Enemies Only (DC +5)
The spell affects hostile targets only. Note that this does not require the Enlightened Mage know who his enemies are Ė the magic knows the intent of those within the area of effect.
Allies Only (DC +5)
The spell affects friendly targets only. As above, the mage is not required to know who his enemies are. The magic does, and that is enough.
Chosen (DC +1 per subject)
The caster specifies which creature in the area of effect will not be targeted. Note that subjects so specified do not have to be visible to the caster when they are chosen, though he must be aware of them.
The casting DC modifier is +1 per subject not to be targeted within the area of effect.
Objects Only (DC +0)
Should the caster wish, he can choose to only affect inanimate objects, including those worn or held, without modifying the spell check DC.

Step 3: Choose a Range Element

By default, Enlightened magic spells are assumed to have a range of personal, meaning they affect only the caster. an Enlightened Mage can, of course, project his spell energy across greater distances, as outlined below.
As before, the Enlightened Mage is free to modify the ranges of the spell as he chooses, but must always add the casting DC to the final casting check.
Touch or Self (DC +0)
The spell discharges to any object touched by the caster, or into the caster himself. If attempting to touch an unwilling target, the Enlightened Mage must succeed at a touch attack. The charge of a touch spell can be held by the Enlightened Mage for a number of rounds equal to one-half his level, rounded down, to a minimum of 1 round. If the spell has not been discharged by that point, the energies evaporate harmlessly into static reality.
Close (DC +1)
The maximum range of the spell is 25 feet + 5 feet per two caster levels.
Medium (DC +5)
The maximum range of the spell is 100 feet + 10 feet per caster level.
Long (DC +10)
The maximum range of the spell is 400 feet + 40 feet per caster level.
Extreme (DC +15)
The maximum range of the spell is 1 mile + 1 mile per caster level. Without the aid of divination magic, which Enlightened magic cannot empower, or without intimate knowledge of the target (such as if the target were an acquaintance or the target an area the caster knew well), the caster cannot effectively target beyond his line of sight.

Step 4: Choose a Duration Element

Without selecting one of the Duration elements listed below, any spell the Enlightened Mage casts is considered to be of Instantaneous duration. Enlightened magic is difficult to control, the weight of consensual reality always pushing back, but a skilled practitioner can force reality to hold itself to the shape he dictates.
Note that Raw Damage effect elements can only ever be instantaneous in duration, though both Degrading and Persistent Damage effects continue to affect their targets for multiple rounds. Also remember that damage inflicted by damage effects is permanent until healed, and does not fade simply because the spell does. All other Enlightened magic spells can be forced to hold any of the durations presented below, but the casting DC must of course be added to the final spellcasting check.
Instantaneous (DC +0)
The effect is applied immediately and lasts but a split-second before evaporating.
One Round (DC +2)
The spellís effects apply for a single round.
By Round (DC +5)
The spellís duration is increased to one round per caster level.
By Minute (DC +10)
The spell has a duration of one minute per caster level.
By Hour (DC +15)
The spell has a duration of one hour per two caster levels.
Once a Duration element has been chosen, it can be further modified by the following option:
Secondary Duration (DC variable): A secondary Duration element can be applied to any one subsidiary effect element which can be given a duration. It enables the Enlightened Mage to delay the subsidiary effects of his spells until after the primary effect has finished Ė without this modification, all of a spellís effects occur at the same time. A secondary Duration element costs half the increase to casting DC (rounded up), so that a secondary By Round duration would add 3 to the casting DC, rather than 5.
For example: A 10th level Enlightened Mage creates a spell with two effects, using a major Transformation as the primary effect and a minor Domination effect as the subsidiary. The Transformation effect is given a duration of By Round, and the Domination effect is modified by a secondary duration of By Round. This means that the Transformation effect lasts 10 rounds and then, in the round immediately following its final round, the Domination effect begins and will last for 10 rounds.
Combining Area and Duration Elements: When a Enlightened magic spell is woven, the caster can freely specify one of two additional effects, but only so long as he has added both area and duration elements to the spell effect.
Ü The spellís effect applies to a specific area for its duration, and the spell applies only to creatures while they remain within the area of effect. Creatures who move out of the area are no longer affected by the spell, but may re-enter the area of effect should they so choose.
Ü The spellís effect will apply to a specific subject for its duration, meaning the spellís effects apply only to those beings who were within the area of effect at the time of casting. Other beings may enter the area of effect, but are not subject to the spellís effects, while those who started within the area of effect and later leave are still subject to the spellís effects.


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Step 5: Choose a Saving Throw Element

All Enlightened magic spells have a base saving throw DC equal to 10 + the casterís Intelligence bonus + half the casterís level, rounded down. This means that most Enlightened magic spells will be about as hard to resist as those cast by more traditional methods. Enlightened magic is quick and abundant, but lacks the deadly punch of prepared arcana. Saves are also affected by the alignment of the target: those whose lives are free and open to possibility are more likely to accept the changes imposed upon them by an Enlightened mage, while those with strong belief in a natural order or law find their minds strengthened by those structures. Targets of Chaotic alignment suffer a -1 insight penalty to saving throws, while those of Lawful alignment gain a +1 insight bonus.
Should he so choose, however, an Enlightened Mage can attempt to use his will in order to overpower an adversary, giving it an increased ability to penetrate arcane defences, at the cost of making it much more difficult to control. At the time of casting, before saving throws are attempted, the Enlightened Mage can alter the save DC of the spell, as outlined below:  It is possible for a spell to be woven which provides the victim with a bonus to his saving throws. While this considerably weakens the offensive power of the spell, it also reduces its cost, which can be important at low levels. Bonuses to saving throws can normally only be added to Direct Damage effects, but with the DMs permission, they may be added to other types of spell weaves which are directed at the Enlightened Mageís enemies.
+2 bonus to saves
The casting DC is modified by -3
+1 bonus to saves
The casting DC is modified by -1
+/-0 to saves
Default. No modification to saves
-1 penalty to saves
The casting DC is modified by +2
-2 penalty to saves
The casting DC is modified by +5
-3 penalty to saves
The casting DC is modified by +8
-4 penalty to saves
The casting DC is modified by +10
-5 penalty to saves
The casting DC is modified by +12

Overcoming Spell Resistance: Though their spells lack the ability to easily punch through a targetís normal defences, Enlightened Mages have a potential advantage against those foes who possess spell resistance. Creatures with the innate ability to shake off spell energy are without a doubt the bane of spellcasters, as they can render even the mightiest spell to little more than sparks. Enlightened Mages, however, with their ability to warp reality to their desire, can direct their spell energies to bypass spell resistance altogether, though the cost is great. To ignore a targetís spell resistance and avoid the necessity of making the required caster level check, declare to the DM your intention and figure the spellís DC as per normal. Roll as per normal to see if he spell works, but the DM will deduct the total spell resistance of the target from your casting check. Bypassing spell resistance is a great risk, but can be an Enlightened Mageís greatest boon when dealing with powerful magical creatures.

Step 7: Casting the Spell

After all the elements of the spell have been chosen and the modified casting DC of the spell determined, it is time to cast the spell.
To see if he successfully imposes his will upon reality, the Enlightened Mage simply needs his casting check to equal or exceed the casting DC of the spell (a casting check being 1d20 + caster level + Intelligence modifier). Success results in the spell working as the Enlightened Mage desires. Failure, however, can have dreadful consequences: the Enlightened Mage is considered stunned until the beginning of his next turn.
In addition, should an Enlightened Mage roll a 1 on his casting check, he suffers a backlash from consensual reality (see below).

Enlightened magic spells are cast as a standard action. They are assumed to provoke attacks of opportunity, as more traditional spells do, and require verbal and somatic components, unless the spell weave is modified with one of the following options:
1) Should an Enlightened Mage so choose, he can reduce a spellís casting checkís DC by increasing the time required to cast it. By increasing the casting time to a full round action, he reduces the casting check DC by 2. Every additional round, beyond the first, spent casting the spell decreases the casting check DC by 1, to a maximum reduction of Ė10.
2) Forgo Component (DC + 5)
This effect modifier allows the Enlightened Mage to forgo the need for either the verbal or somatic components of his spell. Under no circumstances can the need for both verbal and somatic components be eliminated.
3) Rote Casting (DC -2)
While they often criticize the flawed paradigms of wizardry, there is a reason most arcane casters throughout history have adopted formulae and rituals for casting spells: a spell known by rote is simply easier to cast than one shaped unpracticed. If an Enlightened Mage has cast a specific spell at least once before, and made notes as to its formation (in a manner similar to scribing a scroll in a spellbook, though the writing itself is nonmagical and uses mundane inks), further castings are made at -2 DC.

What Enlightened magic Cannot Do: Enlightened magic is extraordinarily versatile and an imaginative Enlightened Mage can alter reality in thousands of different ways, allowing him to achieve almost any result, as his whims and necessity dictate. Still, Enlightened magic is not without its limits, and there are certain broad categories of magical effects that it simply cannot produce.

Healing Magic: Enlightened magic can twist flesh, sculpt bone and cause uncontrolled growth; it can seize control of the brainís electrical impulses, shatter thoughts, turn friends to lovers and then to bitterest rivals; it can even create the semblance of life from nothingness; but it cannot heal a scratch, cannot return cancerous flesh to pure, or restore life to the fallen. Wounds are burned intensely into one's self-image, wether one wants them or no, and are highly resistant to alteration by an outside will. Enlightened magic has great difficulty in healing hit points, and can only do so through a few specialized effects.

Divination Magic: Enlightened magic is wholly unsuitable for prediction, prognostication, retrocognition or divinations of any sorts. It allows its wielder to impose his will upon the reality of the moment, and it is not in its nature to predict the future or read the past. Enlightened magic cannot be used to create any magic which reads the future or reveals past events.

Summoning: While Enlightened magic can be used to create living constructs of astral matter, or weave spells that command the minds of monsters and beasts, or even shift monsters from one place to another, it is not possible for Enlightened magic to directly summon monsters.
That is to say, Enlightened magic cannot be used to replicate the effects of summon monster or summon natureís ally spells. There are a few ways around this, however. For example, an Enlightened Mage can seize control of an existing beast, directing it to attack or flee, as he sees fit. Alternately, he could use Movement effects to teleport nearby creatures into the thick of enemy formations (and can use similar magic to bring specific creatures he knows well, such as trained dogs, from much greater distances). In short, this is a limitation a clever Enlightened Mage can overcome.

The Limits of Mind and Body: Unlike more traditional arcane spellcasters, Enlightened Mages are not chained and burdened down by the notion of spell slots, or a hard limit to the number of spells they can cast per day. In fact, Enlightened Mages find those concepts downright alien, and view these limits as further proof (as if, to their minds, any more were needed!) that traditional mages are naught but children playing at adult games. Instead, Enlightened Mages are limited by the strength of their own minds and bodies.
Each time an Enlightened Mage casts a spell, he suffers one point of nonlethal damage for each five full points in the spellís casting DC. This damage is applied immediately after a successful casting check.
So, for example, casting a spell with a casting check DC of 12 will cause 2 points of damage, while a spell with a DC of 23 will cause 4 points, and so on. While nonlethal damage heals quickly, it still presents a very real limitation to the Enlightened Mage; any Enlightened Mage who is staggered or knocked unconscious by nonlethal damage from spellcasting cannot cast spells again until he has had at least eight hours of continuous, full rest.

Concentration: If the Enlightened Mage is distracted while casting, his Concentration check DC is modified by the spellís casting DC, rather than damage suffered. If he fails this check, he is also assumed to fail casting the spell. Enlightened mages must concentrate far more than casters who employ rote formulae, and are far more easily disrupted.
Some effect elements detailed earlier are listed as requiring continuous concentration. Spells with this requirement can only be maintained by force of will, lest they lose coherence and sputter away. Spells which require continuous concentration exist only so long as the Enlightened Mage dedicates a standard action to maintaining them.
Maintenance of a spell does not provoke an attack of opportunity, but is otherwise considered a standard action in every way. Anything which can disrupt a spell during its casting can also disrupt the concentration required to maintain it, requiring the Enlightened Mage to attempt a Concentration check. When determining the DC of the check, use the casting DC of the spell being maintained as the basic difficulty and add modifiers as necessary.
Characters concentrating on a spell cannot cast another, thought they may voluntarily drop their concentration, ending the spell immediately Ė there are no penalties for voluntarily ending a Enlightened magic spell. Should a character fail his Concentration check, however, he is stunned until his next action.

Backlash and its Effects: Whenever an Enlightened Mage rolls a Ď1í for a casting check, they gain a point of backlash and roll 1d20. If the result is equal to or less than the number of backlash points the character has accumulated, they suffer a backlash explosion. The enlightened mage suffers damage eqal to their HD (so an enlightened mage with 3d4 HD suffers 3d4 damage). This damage ignores damage reduction, spell resistance, temporary hit points, and other such effects. For each damage die rolled, reduce the enlightened mage's backlash point total by one.
At higher levels, backlash becomes dangerous to those around the enlightened mage as well. If the number of damage die is equal to 10 or more, the damage is also dealt to anyone within 5ft (counts as force damage, does not ignore effects such as DR). If the number of damage die is equal to 20 or more, the damage is dealt to anyone within 10ft.
Backlash points also cause difficulties for an Enlightened mage when attempting social interactions... subconsciously, others sense that the mage is a danger to their reality or has violated the collective will. If an Enlightened mage has a number of backlash points greater than his Enlightened mage level, he suffers a -1 penalty during social interactions (Bluff, Diplomacy, etc).
An enlightened mage may reduce their number of backlash points by 'bleeding' them off. When a spell is successfully cast, the enlightened mage may convert the damage they take from nonlethal to lethal. Doing so reduces their total backlash points by one (to a minimum of 0).

ENLIGHTENED FEATS
Coincidental Magic
In addition to direct use of enlightened magic, you also influence reality in subtle, almost subconcious ways, delivering better-than-expected outcomes in your daily activities. To most outside observers, this effect seems like remarkably good luck.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast enlightened magic.
Benefits: You are surrounded by good fortune and gain a floating luck bonus of +2. Each day, you assign this luck bonus to any one skill you possess, or to one saving throw. The bonus applies for the duration of the day, or until you fail a check with the selected skill or saving throw (whichever comes first). If you do fail this skill check or saving throw that day, you suffer a Ė1 penalty to that skill or save for the remainder of the day.

Enlightened Casting Focus
You have disciplined yourself towards mastery of reality, and can readily shape its raw essence to serve your whims. This keen focus has a price thoughÖ can be bidden only so far. Should the Enlightened Mage incur backlash, they increase the chance that they will suffer dearly for it.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast enlightened magic.
Benefits: You receive a +1 bonus to all casting checks made when using Enlightened magic. It is slightly easier for you to suffer a backlash explosion; you are considered to have one additional point of backlash for determining wether or not you suffer a backlash explosion. So, an Enlightened Mage with this feat and three backlash points would suffer a backlash explosion if he rolled a 4 or less on his backlash check.

Enlightened Element Focus
You have mastered the art of imposing certain changes upon reality
Prerequisites: Intelligence 15+, ability to cast enlightened magic.
Benefits: Select an effect element (Direct Damage, Domination, Materialisation, Movement or Transformation). All saving throw DCs against spells of that effect element are increased by 2, so long as that effect is the sole effect in the spell. So, for example, this featís benefits would apply to a spell which consisted entirely of a single Persistent Damage effect, but not to one which combined persistent damage with a Domination effect.
Special: This feat can be selected more than once. Each time, its benefits must be applied to a different effect element. Spells with multiple effect elements can benefit from this feat, but only if they consist solely of effects which are enhanced by Enlightened Element Focus Ė employing multiple Enlightened Element Focus feats within the same spell still only means that the saving throw DC is modified by +2, not +4.

Enlightened Element Specialization
You have concentrated your will along specific aspects and can focus these forces with assured ease.
Prerequisites: Enlightened Casting Focus, Int 19+.
Benefits: Choose one effect element. When casting spells which have this element as their primary effect, you gain a +2 bonus to caster checks (this stacks with Casting Focus). It is also much easier for you to suffer a backlash explosion; you are considered to have one additional point of backlash for determining wether or not you suffer a backlash explosion (this also stacks with Casting Focus). So, an Enlightened Mage with this feat and three backlash points would suffer a backlash explosion if he rolled a 5 or less on his backlash check (+1 for Specialization, +1 for Casting Focus).
Special: You can take this feat twice, with the benefits applying to a different effect element each time.

Subtle Enlightened Magic [Metamagic]
Prerequisites: Ability to use enlightened magic, Int 15+.
Benefits: Subtle Enlightened Magic allows the Enlightened Mage to lower the DC penalty to cast a spell without vocal or somatic components (mageís choice in every case, but not both in the same spell) by 2, to +3.
Special: an Enlightened Mage purchases Subtle Enlightened magic only once. He may apply the effect either to silent or still spellcasting in every spell he casts, but not both in the same spell.

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If you haven't tried to read the awful mass of text above, it was an attempt to take the D&D mechanics and create something out of Mage: the Ascension, casting normal wizards and clerics as mere paradigms and Enlightened Mage as those who grasp the underlying nature of things. The character it was created for was this:

Crazy Steve proves he's strangely comfortable with a character concept based on ghost-sex
 
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Name: Ashen Orodai
Class: Enlightened Mage 8
XP: ? (Next Level: ?)
Type: Medium humanoid.
Race/Gender: Human-fetch (half-ghost) male.
Alignment: Neutral good.
Physical Characteristics: Age 30, Height ' ", Weight lbs.
Deity: None (atheist).

Abilities: Str 10 (+0), Dex 16 (+3), Con 20/16 (+5/+3), Int 26/20 (+8/+5), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 12 (+1).

HD: 8d8+40+8 (8d8+24+8)
HP:
Speed: 30ft. Fly 30ft (perfect).
Initiative: +3 (+3 Dex).
BAB: +4/-1 (+6/+1, -2 Noncombatant).
AC: 14 (base 10 +3 Dex +1 Dodge, ).
Saves: Fort +11 (+5 Con, +6 class), Ref +13 (+3 Dex, +6 class, +4 Aerial Reflexes), Will +9 (+1 Wis, +6 class, +2 Iron Will).

Skills: Aerobatics 17 (6 ranks +3 Dex +8 Int); Bluff 6 (5 ranks +1 Cha); Concentration 12/16 (11 ranks +1 Wis OR +5 Con), Decipher Script 14 (6 ranks +8 Int); Diplomacy 6 (5 ranks +1 Cha); Gather Information 7 (6 ranks +1 Cha); Knowledge: Arcana 19 (11 ranks +8 Int), Architecture and Engineering 10 (2 ranks +8 Int), Astronomy 12 (4 ranks +8 Int), Dungeoneering 9 (1 rank +8 Int), Geography 10 (2 ranks +8 Int), History 9 (1 rank +8 Int), Nature 10 (2 rank +8 Int), Nobility 9 (1 rank +8 Int), Religion 12 (4 ranks +8 Int), Planes 10 (2 ranks +8 Int); Notice 12 (11 ranks +1 Wis); Profession: Gravekeeper 2 (1 rank +1 Wis), Scribe 3 (2 ranks +1 Wis); Search 14 (6 ranks +8 Int); Sense Motive 12 (11 ranks +1 Wis); Stealth 26 (11 ranks +3 Dex +8 Int +4 racial); Spellcraft 19 (11 ranks +8 Int).

Languages: Common + 5.

Feats:
--- Enlightened Casting Focus: You receive a +1 bonus to all casting checks made when using Enlightened magic. It is slightly easier for you to suffer a backlash explosion; you are considered to have one additional point of backlash for determining wether or not you suffer a backlash explosion. So, an Enlightened Mage with this feat and three backlash points would suffer a backlash explosion if he rolled a 4 or less on his backlash check.
--- Toughness: +1HP per HD.
--- Second Wind: Once per day, may heal self 5HP (10HP nonlethal) [Con modifier, min 1].
--- Aerial Reflexes: When flying, gain a bonus on Reflex saves based on your Maneuverability: Perfect = +4.
--- Dodge: +1AC.
--- Iron Will: +2 Will saves.

Flaws:
--- Noncombatant: You take a −2 penalty on all melee attack rolls.

Special Abilities:
--- Proficiencies: All simple & martial weapons. Light armour. Shields (not tower shields).
--- Darkvision: 60ft.
--- Immunities: Immune to energy drain, ability damage, ability drain, and the special attacks of Ghosts.
--- Improved Saves: +2 Racial bonus on saves vs. Fear, Poison, Disease, Paralysis, & spells from the Necromancy school.
--- Fortification: 50% chance that any Sneak Attack and/or Critical Hit on the Fetch will be negated. Does not stack with other forms of Fortification.
--- Negative Energy Conductive: When saving against Negative Energy damage (such as from an Inflict Wounds spell), the Fetch takes no damage on a successful save and half damage on a failed save.
--- Holy Water Vulnerability: Takes 1d4 damage from a direct hit of Holy/Unholy Water (depending on alignment).
--- Vulnerability to Turning: A turning attempt that would Turn or Rebuke an Undead of 4HD (half the Fetchís HD) causes the Fetch to receive a Ė4 penalty on attacks, saves, skill checks, & ability checks until the Ďturnerí attacks the Fetch, up to 10 rounds. If the attempt would have Destroyed or Commanded the Fetch, it is Stunned for 2d4 rounds.
--- Ghostly Rebuke: A Fetch Cleric receives a +2 bonus to Turn or Rebuke Ghosts.
--- Unnerving Gaze: A fetch may choose to channel his undead essence through his gaze. A living creature who meets the Fetchís Unnerving Gaze is Shaken for 10 minutes (Will negates, DC 11 Charisma-based). A successful save gives 24 hours of immunity from that Fetchís gaze.
--- Telekinesis: Can cast once every 1d4 rounds, at caster level 8 (equal to character level).
--- Detect Undead: Incorporeal only, at will, at caster level 8 (equal to character level).
--- Ghost Form: 1/day. As a Full Round Action, the Fetch can release its spirit from its physical body, leaving it comatose. The ghost form carries no equipment. If destroyed, the spirit returns to its body & takes 1hp of damage per minute it was away. Otherwise, the spirit can return any time it wishes and reenter its body as a Full Round Action.
--- Unnatural Aura: Animals will not willingly approach closer than 15í to a Fetch & will panic if forced closer.
--- Detects as Undead: Spells such as Detect Undead will detect a Fetch as if it were a 4HD Undead (1/2 Fetch HD).
--- Slow Aging: Fetch ages at 1/4  normal rate after it reaches maturity.
--- Ghostly Rise: When it dies, there is a 24% chance (3% per HD) the Fetch will rise as a Ghost.
--- Cunning Insight (Ex): Spend 1 inspiration point to add Int modifier (+8) competence bonus to a single attack, damage, or saving throw.
--- Cunning Knowledge (Ex): Spend 1 inspiration point to add Int modifier (+8) competence bonus to a skill check where you already have one rank. May only be used for a single skill once per day, but may be used multiple times for different skills.
--- Trapfinding (Ex): Enlightened Mages (like rogues and only rogues) can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20. Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. Enlightened Mages can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A Enlightened Mage who beats a trapís DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with his party) without disarming it.
--- Enlightened Magic: Beginning at 1st level, the Enlightened Mage gains the ability to impose his will uponthe universe, to create nearly unlimited magical effects.
---Brains over Brawn: Add Int bonus (+8) as a modifier to Strength checks, Dexterity checks, and checks involving skills based on Str or Dex.
---Cunning Defense: Spend 1 inspiration point to gain Int bonus (+8) to AC vs 1 opponent for 1 round as a free action. Can be used more than once per round, but only against a different opponent each time.
--- Cunning Strike: Spend 1 inspiration point before making an attack roll to deal 1d6 points sneak attack damage. For targets with uncanny dodge, 8 (Enlightened Mage level) counts as rogue level.
--- Understanding of Divinity: Like the spells of wizards, enlightened mages view the divine magics of clerics and gods as merely imperfect paradigms for chanelling the true power of the universe. While healing is incredibly complex, difficult for an Enlightened Mage to accomplish, starting at 5th level they may begin to replicate some of the healing and turning magics accessible to divine casters. For 1 inspiration point as a standard action, an Enlightened Mage may: heal an amount of damage equal to 24 ([Enlightened mage level x2] + Int bonus) with a touch (they may target themselves); they may attempt to turn or rebuke undead as a cleric of level 8 (equa to their Enlightened Mage level); they may deal an amount of damage equal to 24 ([Enlightened mage level x2] + Int bonus) to an undead creature by way of a touch attack. An Enlightened Mage may use Understanding Divinity a number of times per day equal to 4 (3 + Wis bonus).
--- Multiple Effects: Can weave two spell effects (from the same step) into every casting.
--- Enlightened Countermagic: Enlightened Mages can counter any static magic spell effect. This is identical to the counterspell ability of traditional arcane casters, with the following exceptions.
A Enlightened Mage need never attempt a Spellcraft skill check when attempting to counter a spell. He makes a caster check against a DC of 10 + the spellís level. A successful caster check means that the spell is countered, while a failed check leaves the Enlightened Mage vulnerable to backlash (see below).
Enlightened countermagic is capable of countering any spell, even those which are not normally affected by counterspell. When used to counter such a spell, increase the spellís effective level by one.
Enlightened countermagic can never be used to disrupt divine spellcasting... belief in one's deity is a far more potent force than belief in spell formulae.
--- Cunning Surge: Spend 3 inspiration points to take an extra standard action during your turn.

Inspiration (per encounter): 8
Enlightened Spellcasting Roll: 1d20 +16
Enlightened Spellcasting default Save: 22
Backlash Points: 0

Carrying Capacity: 33lbs/66lbs/100lbs.
Carried: 30.5lbs
Coins: 54gp 9sp 10cp
Possessions:
- Scholar's robes (6lbs)
- Headband of Intellect +6 (+6 INT, 0lb)
- Amulet of Health +4 (+4 CON, 0lb)
- Mithralmist Shirt (+1 enhancement. +5AC, no spell failure, 10lbs. 7x per day create mist lasting 3 minutes granting concealment but not affecting wearer's vision)
-- Crystal of Least Adaptation (constant Endure Elements, 0lbs)
- Cloak of Elemental Protection (1x per day resistance vs. a specific energy type for 1 round, 1lb)
- Backpack (2lbs)
-- Spellbook (containing practiced Enlightened formulae, 3lbs)
-- 20 crossbow bolts (2lbs)
- Belt Pouch (0.5lbs)
-- 10 crossbow bolts (1lb)
- Masterwork light crossbow (+1 to hit, simple, 1d8, 19-20/x2, 80ft range, Piercing, 4lbs)
- Dagger (simple, 1d4, 19-20/x2, piercing or slashing, 1lb)

Storage & Banking:

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Appearance: Ashen is a thin, gaunt man, his skin pale and tinged with grey. His hair is black, usually greased back away from his eyes and freed to twist and tangle at the rear of his skull, and he grows little facial hair. His voice is quiet, posessed of an almost musical quality. Though he can walk, he is most often found floating slightly above the ground.
Ashen's taste in clothing is simple, favouring dark colours such as blacks, blues, and greys, without much adornment.

Background: For generations, the Sixfeet family has served as undertakers for the provincial graveyards... burying coffins, maintaining crypts, tending flowerbeds, and keeping watch for signs of grave-robbers or necromancy. It is simple work, which some might find distasteful, but the Sixfeet are simple folk and have grown used to the proximity of the dead. Each generation, the responsibility of gravekeeping passes from father to son and life continues as it always has.

Ashen Orodai was born to Shara Sixfeet, daughter of gravekeeper Torbad Sixfeet, some thirty years ago. At his birth, his grandfather had at first thought he was stillborn due to his silence and unnatural pallor, until the baby responded to its mother's touch. His sickly colour earned him his name, 'Ashen'.
Ashen never knew his father... Shara was a young woman when he was born, unmarried and unpromised. When asked, his mother could only tell a tale of a beautiful man named 'Orodai' whom she had met amongst the crypts, with whom she had shared some moments of tenderness. Ashen's grandfather had never believed the tale, accusing his daughter of surrendering her virtue to some village boy out vandalyzing the graveyard and saddling the family with a child while spoiling any chance of a marriage dowry. Shara and Ashen were both subject to frequent beatings due to this supposed sin.

As he grew older, Ashen's unusual nature became apparent... though too frail to assist with gravedigging, the boy had a quick mind and an eerie aura, sometimes capable of flight or of moving objects without touching them. Torbad did not approve of such strange powers, delivering beatings whenever they emerged, and further abuse when Ashen's mind caused him to ask too many questions or waste too much time exploring. Eventually Shara, knowing her child did not belong amongst the graves, began to take odd jobs in order to pay for sending her son to a boarding school so he might get an education.

Though the school provided Ashen with some intellectual stimulation, it was no more accepting of his strange nature than had been Torbad, and he was frequently subject to corporal punishment from teachers and near-constant bullying by his classmates.  Having known no better, Ashen accepted such treatment with little complain, concentrating on his studies and emerging at the top of his class. One teacher at the school, seeing Ashen's potential, took the boy under his wing and provided access to more advanced texts, from which Ashen began to draw an understanding of the arcane that would blossom into mastery of enlightened magic.

A year before his graduation from the boarding school, and just before his 13th birthday, Ashen's grandfather secured marriage of Shara to a local labourer, who would continue on the Sixfeet tradition of gravekeeping. Shara was barred from working, and could not pay for Ashen's tuition, so he was ejected from the school.

Neither his new stepfather nor grandfather wanted anything to do with him, leaving Ashen homeless. His mother supplied him with what money she still posessed, but Torbad soon barred contact between the two. A teacher at his former school assisted the boy in securing piecemeal work as a messenger and scribe, and this allowed Ashen to subsist while he experimented with his budding skill at magic. Such skills, in turn, opened new opportunities for lucrative employment, including adventuring, and the profits from such endeavours gave Ashen access to books and scrolls with which to occupy his natural curiosity. He continued trying to contact his mother, but after his stepfather discovered one of his letters to her she did not survive the subsequent beatings. After her death, Ashen abandoned the surname of his birth, adopting instead the name of the man who might have been his father. 

Personality: Ashen is a keenly intelligent man, with a thirst for knowledge about the world around him. Some might consider him cold or emotionally distant, and this is largely true: rather than anger or depression, Ashen has coped with the hardships of his life by way of acceptance. Power and experience have rendered him more assertive than he once was, but he remains willing to surrender 'pride' or 'face' in order to avoid conflict.

Motivations: Ashen seeks knowledge... knowledge of enlightened magic, achieved through practice and experience in its use, and knowledge of more academic sorts, achieved through observation and reading of scholarly tomes. Such tomes require reputation and fat purses to access... a further reason for adventuring.
Ashen is also curious about his origins. He has already concluded that his father may have been a ghost, but does not know who, or why a ghost would have wished to father a child with a gravedigger's daughter. He continues seeking answers to such questions.
Unlike many Enlightened Mages, Ashen does not actively seek to subvert the paradigms of unEnlightened casters, but he is often a source of irritation for them nevertheless, due to his curiosity as to why they practice such an imperfect form of magic.

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Spell Folio

Ashenís Enemy Electrocution
Effect Element: Direct Damage (DC 10), Electricity (DC +1)
Area Element: Single target (default)
Range Element: Touch attack (default)
Duration Element: Instantaneous (default)
Save Element: Standard (default)
Other Elements: Rote Casting (DC -2)
Final Casting DC: 9
This spell sends electric shocks rippling out from every part of its victimís body, inflicting 8d8 electricity damage. The target may make a Fortitude save for half damage (DC 22).
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Ashenís Emergency Transposition
Effect Element: Minor Movement (DC 10)
Area Element: Two Targets (DC + 3)
Range Element: Medium (DC + 5), maximum distance 180ft.
Duration Element: Instantaneous (default)
Save Element: -2 to saves (DC +5)
Trigger Element:  Caster is flanked (uncommon DC -10).
Other Elements: Rote Casting (DC -2)
Final Casting DC: 10 +3 +5 Ė10 +5 -2 = 11
This spell causes two living beings to instantly switch locations with one another in the event that the caster is flanked. It is normally cast before combat, and when flanking occurs, the caster need merely designate two targets Ė if both fail their save (or one or both choose to forgo the save attempt), they instantly trade positions. The caster will usually designate himself and either a friendly melee combatant or an enemy some distance away, though in an emergency he might merely switch with his flanker to avoid facing two foes at that particular moment. The save DC is 22 (with the targetís saving throw subject to a -2 penalty).

Ashenís Long-Distance Problem Resolution
Effect Element: Raw Damage (DC 10)
Area Element: Single (default)
Range Element: Long (DC + 10), maximum distance 720ft.
Duration Element: Instantaneous (default)
Save Element: Standard (default)
Other Elements: Rote Casting (DC -2)
Final Casting DC: 10 +10 -2 = 18
Ashenís Long-Distance Problem Resolution is a simple spell designed to deal significant damage over significant distances, preferably for use while Ashen flies safely above a ground-level opponent. The spell inflicts 8d8 force damage and allows a Fort save for half (DC 22).

Ashenís Ball of Fire by Enlightened Methodology
Effect Element: Raw Damage + fire (DC 10 +1)
Area Element: Burst (DC +5)
Range Element: Medium (DC + 5), maximum distance 180ft.
Duration Element: Instantaneous (default)
Save Element: Standard (default)
Other Elements: Rote Casting (DC -2)
Final Casting DC: 10 +1 +5 +5 -2 = 19
Having observed countless fireball spells cast via traditional wizardry, Ashen has sought to demonstrate the same results achieved through Enlightened casting rather than blind self-deception. The spell inflicts 8d8 fire damage over an area with a radius between 5í and 40í, allowing a Fort save for half (DC 22). 

Ashenís Retaliatory Feedback
Effect Element: Raw Damage (DC 10)
Area Element: Single (default)
Range Element: Medium (DC + 5), maximum distance 180ft.
Duration Element: Instantaneous (default)
Save Element: Standard (default)
Trigger Element: When caster subject to attack (DC -10)
Other Elements: Rote Casting (DC -2)
Final Casting DC: 10 +5 -10 -2 = 3
Usually prepared in advance, when triggered this spell unleashes a blast of energy against a single target that has just made an attack against the caster (melee, ranged, magic), inflicting 8d8 points of force damage, allowing a Fort save for half (DC22).

Ashenís Emergency Concealment Contingency
Effect Element: Minor materialization (DC 10)
Area Element: Burst (DC +5)
Range Element: Self (DC +0)
Duration Element: By Round (DC +5)
Save Element: Standard (default)
Trigger Element: When caster subject to attack (DC -10)
Other Elements: Rote Casting (DC -2)
Final Casting DC: 10 +5 +5 -10 -2 = 8
Usually prepared in advance, when triggered this spell triggers when someone makes an attack against the caster (melee, ranged, magic). The spell creates an obscuring cloud of mist around the caster, with a radius between 5í and 40í, granting total concealment from those without to those within (and vice-versa) for 8 rounds.
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Have been illustrating my character and a number of NPCs for a current DnD campaign... ugh.

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Assatur Karcos, factotum-necromancer

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Elite kobolds

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