Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dark Magic

Dark magic is a destructive force that draws power from the oldest and greatest of emotions; fear. A dark mage cats their spells from a mirror, which holds the fear and turns it into dark power. The simplest spell is to release all the power within the mirror at once, in a burst of destruction. It is similar to an explosion, but for the lack of concussive force or fire; the black burst simply obliterates anything it touches. With practice, the mage usually learns precision and control, enabling them to mete out energy and utilize it more efficiently, perhaps focusing the release into a narrow beam with longer range or multiple projectiles.

To gather their power, a mage must gaze into their mirror and focus on what frightens them. This perverse form of meditation will never seek to overcome or learn to live with these fears, for if they do so then power will be lost. Instead, mages simply fixate upon their fears and paranoia, warping their minds and twisting their souls over time.

There is no upper limit to how much fear a mirror can hold, but the more it is given, the harder it will be to control. Like filling a wineskin, it can stretch but will start to leak, and when you pierce it the contents may come gushing out when a more controlled stream might have been preferred. Mirrors will also leak when left idle for too long with power inside, becoming tarnished and shadowed. It is for this reason that most dedicated mages will keep a polishing kit along with them, as it takes much more focus to use every iota of darkness each day than it does to simply clean the mirror regularly. Some say that when a mirror is completely consumed by this darkness, it changes into a new metal, a black silver that has special properties. There isn't much evidence behind this however, and the mages themselves are unwilling to confirm or deny these rumors.

Most dark mages either come from or were trained at the white palace. Built of polished sandstone, it lies near the edge of the northern desert. The entire building is white, so that no dark magic can be hidden there; despite their many powers, no dark mage can create light. They are paranoid, distrustful, and violent people overall, and there are plenty of stories involving an unlucky traveler or villager being slaughtered for any small slight or even nothing at all.

The order of Light’s Shadow comprises the largest organized group of mages, though organized seems a stretch. They control the white palace, using it as a meeting center as well as a place for training new mage apprentices. They currently work with the kingdom of Orisria, centered in the jungles to the south of the desert. This is how they have access to the fine silver used to make their arcane tools, though the specific power structure of the order is quite hard to pin down due to frequent backstabbing and mysterious deaths.

Seppam the gnoll is a dark mage from the deeper deserts, near the famous volcano of the sands, who uses a mirror of obsidian. Some say her mirror can hold more power than others and never tarnish, but she is not part of the order, and refuses to share her secrets.

Sir Markim is a knight errant who is rumored to be a dark mage, though he does not carry any mirror openly, or keep a polishing kit. He’s even known for using a spell that creates a sword of darkness, but mages look down on personal combat as brutish and needlessly hazardous, while most warriors see mages as weak and paranoid, so it’s unlikely that someone would put the two together.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Magic item: Saddle of Flight

This saddle will allow you and your horse (or other mount), to fly at high speed. It does not however, prepare the animal for this in any way, causing it to panic and requiring that you keep it calm and try to stay steady while flying.

In a roleplaying game, you could fly at a higher speed than your animal runs, but require handle animal or similar skill checks in order to remain on the animal. Maybe it could even grow accustomed to it over time, and require less difficult checks, or develop a desperate fear of heights and get even harder to stay on each time you lift off. Story-wise, it would be hilarious and terrifying, and probably create some tension depending on how everyone feels about the animal.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Followers of the Shattered Path

Many have heard of the New Map, the enormous library of records and charts kept by the Markers of the Shattered Path. You have likely met a Walker of the Shattered Path, travelling on a Shard to add to their tales. But few realize the full scope and history of the faith.

The story begins with their origin. It is said that the makers created our world, and when they had finished, devised the First Map. It held record of all things in this world, including the hidden road to paradise. However, the Unwalker refused to leave mortals with the First Map, as it could only travel where we have not tread, and so it stole the map so that it alone could know the path to paradise. When all things are discovered, the last Follower of the Shattered Path will find the Unwalker, and will guide all mankind into paradise with the First Map.

Those who seek the Unwalker are known as Walkers of the Shattered Path, and are known far and wide thanks to the inquisitive nature of the sect. It is possible for anyone to become a Walker, so long as their heart is free and their life is a journey, but there are a few simple rituals required to become an official member.

One begins their journeys as a Seeker of the Shattered Path, travelling with an elder Walker on one of their Shards. When the journey is complete, the Seeker will then record it in the New Map, writing their story and crafting their maps. Here they decide whether they will go on to become a Walker or Marker.

Markers are the scribes and recorders of the order, scribing the journeys of every Walker in their Shards, adding to the New Map with tales and maps of every exploration. They are reclusive, though it is not unheard of for one to journey in search of their own Shard, even after finishing their Seeking, it is considered uncouth to do so repeatedly.