Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Alphatian Province of Eadrin -- Updated August 27th

Closeup of the Archport Area in Eadrin.  Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
Welcome to Eadrin, a realm yearning to compete with Arogansa’s flashy demeanor and yet shining by the eerie darkness of its unusual masters. Many an observer has wondered about this modest kingdom tucked at the corner of Arogansa, Theranderol, and war-like Randel. It basks behind the Thera and Randel Rivers, seemingly undefended and supremely confident.

Eadriners strive to present the image of a friendly nation to attract the wealthy visitors gracing the beaches of Arogansa. They succeed, to some degree, but Eadrin is no Arogansa. Its beaches are nice and peaceful, but Eadrin’s tradition and experience in the business remains no match. The greatest benefit for visiting the Corner Kingdom is its lower prices and more discreet environment. This is true of the shores of Eadrin, along the Sea of Alphas and its rivers. Its hinterland is another matter entirely.

What seems to intimidate both visitors and common Eadriners themselves are the leaders of the nation, including Queen Eadra XIII, dubbed the Queen of Dusk. Eadra is a gorgeous elven lady, were it not for her stone-gray skin and opalescent eyes, like those of her ancestors. In much earlier times, when the Eadriner dynasty was still young, its kin had hailed from the Shye-Lawr, fair-skinned and silver-haired. They’d explored the region and discovered a strange lake, which they quickly named The Well of Shadows, for dark beasts emerged from its depths during moonless nights. Cracks in the surrounding hills led to twisted passages converging toward a chasm far beneath the lake. There, a realm of shadows grew progressively more impenetrable, rebellious to the most powerful enchantments to shed light and enable normal vision. A mysterious new magic imbued the abyssal rocks themselves. It challenged the curiosity of visitors, elven or human, to proceed deeper. Over the centuries a few went on, blindly seeking to unveil the mysteries beyond. Rare were those among them who ever returned. Of these, all displayed various symptoms of dementia, mild for the more fortunate, or ravingly insane.

Elders of the early Eadriner dynasty were among those who came back. Aside from their mental afflictions, their physical appearances had changed. Their skins turned ashen and their moods gloomier and ominous. Queen Eadra is of this bloodline. From artifacts brought back and what could be pieced together over time, it was understood that the dark, twisted passages led to the Vortex Dimension. Discoveries unveiled the existence of Old Ones, fragments of what Immortals knew about them, and most importantly, rudiments of Shadow Magic. Since then, the most powerful aristocrats of this realm have become students of the Twilight Arts. They are known as the Shadow Lords.

Eadrin’s leadership forms a cadre of alumni who seek to pierce the Secrets of the Deep and protect them from outsiders. Or perhaps it is the other way around—protecting outsiders from their own imprudent curiosity. The rulers of the Sees of Eadrin are the most experienced in Shadow Magic and mentors to the best students in the realm. In turn, the latter provide guidance to those wizards who seek to join their exclusive brood, the Gray Circle. As part of their apprenticeship, aspiring Shadow Lords must venture alone into the inky gloom beneath the Well of Shadows to awaken their talents. All alumni remain under oath to protect their knowledge and keep it from outsiders.

It is the Shadow Lords who intimidate common folks and neighboring realms. They are strange people, with disturbing powers, unnatural looks, and bizarre manners. Hooded to obscure their faces, they rarely come out in full daylight, preferring a hazy dusk or dawn. A chill often runs down one’s spine when first meeting an adept of the Twilight Arts, often prompting a fearful glance over one’s shoulder.  The Gray Ones are notorious for their ability to hold their keeps despite unfavorable odds.  Past military forays from Randel never fared well. Most of their warriors died. Those who returned remained shaken and not quite the same since. Nowadays, such rash behavior never involves Eadrin borders.

The twisted passages near the Well of Shadow have become entrances to major mines. Eadrin collects Night Stones. The properties of these minerals enable them to absorb light, natural or magical. In the presence of darkness, Night Stones radiate a faint aura producing twilight-like conditions that cannot be altered by any means, natural or magical. Likewise, bright lights are instantly dimmed in the presence of Night Stones. Shadow Lords, as a result of their craft, seek these stones and place them within their abodes. Aristocrats may afford a great many of these rocks, coating enough of their palaces to alter light within a few miles’ radius. Lesser members usually own a few, which are placed at various points inside their dwellings. It is fortunate that these local twilight conditions seem not to affect wildlife or the growth of plants, although the sun or the moon can only be seen as vague glows in the dimmed sky.

Oddly enough, these gloomy conditions provide more of an attraction to visiting wizards than Eadrin’s beaches ever did. Towns, cities, towers, and castles in the Nine Sees of Eadrin lie partially or entirely within their masters’ twilight, depending on how much of their walls are made of Night Stones. It is for this reason that Archport is also known as the City of Twilight. Night or day never prevails there. Light sources are extremely localized, allowing someone to bring forth the glow of a candle to read a book, but not to illuminate a room. It takes a lot of getting used to. A few miles away lies a peaceful countryside, with rolling hills, rich meadows, and a few sunny beaches. Residents both fear and revere their strange masters, for Eadrin remains at peace with its neighbors, its laws are fair, and life is decent despite the lack of bright light here and there. The only places off limits are the approaches to the mines and to the Well of Shadows.  The Shadow Lords own them and they do not welcome outsiders.

They are specialist wizards who dabble with a unique sort of magic based on shadows and arcane principles prevailing at the very edge of light and darkness. What lies there is neither entirely real or fully illusory, yet remains quite tangible in the view of those who fear it. This world at the rim of worlds responds to the subconscious of the unlearned and to manipulations woven by wizards. Those trained in the Twilight Arts know how to bring shadows more fully into reality. They’re not necromancers and bear no connection to the undead (or any link with the X11 module Saga of the Shadow Lord, although its villain could be cast as an obscure Eadrin alumnus.)

The Status of Light

There are three conditions with which Shadow Lords must contend, including:

Daylight: (or any brightly lit environment within a light* spell radius). Shadow Lords may not use special abilities other than spells, noted as SA later, and suffer the following penalties: Partial Blindness--temporary -2 penalty to their Dex scores and hit rolls; Pain--temporary -1 hp per experience level. Hit points lost due to Pain are immediately regained in Twilight conditions.

Darkness: (complete darkness). Shadow Lords may not use special abilities (SA) other than spells. In this environment, they save vs. light-based attacks or spell effects generating light with a –2 penalty. If the effect causes damage, increase damage 25% times 1d4 (25%-100%).

Twilight: (dusk/dawn, moonlight, starlight, areas lit with torches, etc). Shadow Lords may use all their abilities and suffer no penalties.

Other Penalties
Since Shadow Lords must study their craft in addition to basic wizardry, earned experience incurs a permanent –20% penalty.

Training

A wizard may begin training as a Shadow Lord when reaching any level (not necessarily while going through initial apprenticeship.) Shadow Lord levels (SL) must be tracked separately, although only one XP total applies for basic and shadow wizardry. They’re not split, as with AD&D Game multi-classes. Both abilities progress at the same pace.

For example: upon reaching third level, a magic-user decides to begin training as a Shadow Lord. The –20% experience penalty applies from this point on. First level shadow magic and remaining Shadow Lord penalties come into play when the magic-user reaches the next experience level in basic wizardry, noted as MU 4th/SL 1st.

By definition, the weakest Shadow Lord would be a MU 2nd/SL 1st. Training may be abandoned later on. If/when this decision is made, all shadow abilities and related spells are immediately and irremediably lost. Although the –20% experience penalty ceases right away, all other penalties end a year later for each level of experience attained as a Shadow Lord. Lost experience resulting from the earlier penalty is never recovered. Training as a Shadow Lord can never be resumed (the character is seen at best as a failure among Shadow Lords, at worst as a renegade.) Shadow Lord training is available to BECMI elves and Mystaran nosferatu. Multi-classed characters (First or Second Edition AD&D Game) only incur the –20% penalty to experience earned as magic-users.

Prerequisites

As the magic-user class, except as noted below.

Prime Requisites: Int and Dex (and Str for Elves.) Shadow magic requires a minimum Dex score of 13.

Experience Bonus: +5% Int 13-15 (and Str 13 or better for elves). +10% Int 16-18 (and Str 13 or better for elves). Any experience bonuses directly offset the Shadow Lord’s basic –20% penalty.

Shadow Lord Special Abilities (SA)


Upon reaching certain experience levels, a Shadow Lord becomes able to Open Locks, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, and Hear Noise as a Thief of the same level, with some additional effects. If the Shadow Lord is an AD&D Game multi-classed Thief, add a flat +10% bonus to these scores, regardless of SL levels. A multiclassed Thief does benefit from additional Shadow Lord effects.

SL Level 1
Hide in Shadows: if successful, it is impervious to enhanced perception (infravision, dark vision, and other magically altered vision short of True Sight; sense of smell, danger detection, detect evil/good, etc.) The effect ends immediately in bright light or total darkness. Can be used with Move Silently.

Clear Sight: allows a Shadow Lord to see through dimly lit areas as clearly as other people can see in broad daylight. Clear Sight also enables the Shadow Lord to see through natural or magical fog or smoke at the rate of 10’/SL level.

SL Level 3
Move Silently: in addition to the standard Thief ability, the Shadow Lord earns a special move. If Hiding in Shadows at the beginning of the round, the Shadow Lord may dimension door from the present location to another shadowy spot within 60’ (+2’/SL level.) Whether moving on foot or with a dimension door, a check is needed to determine whether the Shadow Lord remains silent. Likewise, a separate check is also required to keep Hiding in Shadows.

SL Level 5
Hear Noise: in addition to the normal Thief ability, a successful Hear Noise also enables a Shadow Lord to detect danger (60’ radius +2’/SL level, for one round.) The general direction of a danger source (the closest if more than one) can be sensed as well. Hear Noise takes a full round and does not permit half-moves or any other action.

SL Level 7
Open Locks: if successful, this ability is equivalent to a silent knock spell as regards its effects and range. The lock or portal knocked open will remain silent when the ability is triggered. Only one attempt may succeed against the same lock or portal.

Shadow Lord Spells


Shadow Lords learn and cast spells just like normal magic-users do. Shadow magic spells are woven at the level attained as a Shadow Lord, and require twilight conditions at the time they are cast. No additional spellcasting slots are gained. For example, a MU 3rd/SL 1st can cast each day no more than two first level spells + one second level spell, only one of which being a shadow magic spell.

Spell Level 1
Twilight: is similar to a light* spell except that it changes ambient light or total darkness to twilight conditions within 60’ radius +2’/SL level. Torchlight is somewhat dimmed and casts an unusual number of shadows. If outdoors, the area of effect changes to yards rather than feet. Duration lasts 5 Turns +1/SL level, and the spell effect moves with the caster.
The spell is critical in that it enables a Shadow Lord to retain special abilities despite adverse conditions. Shadow Lords automatically learn this spell when earning their first level. When cast against any magical light or darkness effect, the spell has a 5% chance of failure for each experience level (or HD) of the Shadow Lord below that of the original spell’s caster—see dispel magic mechanics for more details. If successful, it supersedes existing light or darkness effects.
The area of effect comes off as spooky to any creature half the Shadow Lord’s experience level (rounded down) or with half as many HD—provided they have at least animal Intelligence. Bug-like creatures, slimes, the undead, creatures resistant to fear, and companions of a Shadow Lord are immune. Higher level beings are allowed a saving throw vs. spell to negate the effect. Affected creatures become nervous and jumpy, and suffer a –2 penalty to hit rolls and Morale checks.

Shadow Touch: allows a Shadow Lord to render friends or foes more susceptible to shadow magic for 1 Turn. A hit roll is required to affect an unwilling target (against natural AC with magic and Dex bonuses only.) As many friends as the Shadow Lord can touch within the casting round are affected. Foes suffer a –2 saving throw and AC penalty against subsequent shadow magic. Friends may otherwise benefit from other spells affecting only the Shadow Lord (see blade of gloom, Stygian pit, and shadow play later.)

Spell Level 2
Fake Shadows: the caster may create up to 1d4+1 silhouettes per SL level (of any shape and size, given enough room), and make them move across a surface. The spell’s range is 60’ +2’/SL level. The effect is intended to infer that people or creatures, including mounts and carts, move in that direction, carrying bags of loot or brandishing weapons. The spell lasts up to 1 Turn per SL level, or until dispelled. Fake shadows are mindless illusions that will keep moving in the initial direction. Once cast, the spell does not require the Shadow Lord to keep concentrating. Some care must be taken to cast the spell in such a way that the illusion remains believable. For example, fake shadows cast upon a castle’s wall will keep progressing around the wall until the spell ends.

Minor Pantomime: creates a two-dimensional silhouette of the caster against a physical surface, which the Shadow Lord can send off to explore and spy. A pantomime has no mind of its own and remains fully under its creator’s control. While the spell is in effect, the Shadow Lord cannot cast either a shadow or a reflection of his/her own. A pantomime moves as fast as its creator indiscriminately across walls, floors, ceilings, or any other surfaces as long as normal shadows can be cast upon them. It cannot enter areas of bright light or total darkness, nor can it physically affect anything (such as opening doors, triggering traps, making sounds, attacking people, or stealing objects.) A crack under a door allows a pantomime through, while a hermetically sealed one does not. The spell lasts 6 Turns during which the caster can see and hear everything within normal sight/earshot. Although a pantomime and its creator cannot be physically harmed in the process, the former is visible and automatically dispelled with a light, a darkness, or a dispel magic. Also see the inquest spell for more information.

Spell Level 3
Blade of Gloom: summons a sword of swirling darkness. It is equivalent to a magical +4 sword (longsword) enabling the Shadow Lord to attempt a Backstab as a Thief of the same level. The blade levitates up to 40’ from the caster, progressing horizontally or vertically 20’/Round. Other than attempting a Backstab, it may only parry attacks. The blade lasts 1d4+1 Rounds after being spotted, or vanishes after the Shadow Lord succeeds a Backstab. If the attack succeeds, a surviving victim must roll a saving throw vs. spells or be displaced by dimension door to a shadowy spot within 60’ (+2’/SL level of the caster.) This spell does not betray the presence of a Shadow Lord hiding in shadows.

Shadow Guardian: the caster invokes a special protection lasting 1 Day or until triggered. When the caster is about to suffer physical damage, the shadow guardian appears as the silhouette of a warrior with a shield and absorbs the damage. If the attack is a spell allowing a saving throw for half damage like a fireball, the guardian absorbs half of that resulting damage. The guardian vanishes upon completing its purpose. No more than one such spell for every 3 SL levels may be cast at one time, each appearing after the previous one was triggered. Shadow guardians do not readily protect pantomimes or shadow play but can be “programmed” to do so or to react to specific spells with a contingency spell.

Spell Level 4
Minor Shadow Play: allows a Shadow Lord and all recipients of an earlier shadow touch within a 60’ radius to become their own shadows, including all that they can carry (see minor pantomime earlier.) The spell cannot affect creatures unable to cast a shadow or a reflection, such as vampires and nosferatu. Unwilling targets are allowed a saving throw vs. spells. The caster may opt to affect only unwilling creatures or vice-versa.  All those affected physically vanish, save for their minor pantomime forms. The effect lasts for 6 Turns or until dispelled, at which point the spell’s recipients physically reappear at the spot where the pantomimes vanished.

Stygian Pit: creates an invisible, 30’ deep by 10’ diameter pit within 60’ +2/SL level of the caster.  The surface appears normal and solid. Those who step onto the affected area must save vs. spell of be sucked inside, appearing as if they faded into shadows. It may affect a number of creatures equal to or less than the caster’s level, provided they can physically fit inside. The pit is magically silenced and dark, and its inner surfaces as slick as glass. To those trapped inside, other occupants feel alien to the touch, creepy and ominously monstrous (no save.) The spell is permanent until someone falls into it, after which it lasts one more Turn. All occupants reappear where they vanished when the spell ends.

Spell Level 5
Greater Pantomime: similar to the minor pantomime, except the latter can speak and benefits from a telekinesis effect (as the fifth level magic-user spell.)

Solid Umbra: is similar to stoneform, with the following differences. It creates up to 1,000 cubic feet of shadow material. The structure does not require support and can levitate if desired (although, once created, the shape does not actually move) as long as the caster can physically touch the material when the spell is cast. At this time, the Shadow Lord has the option of making the material solid only to him/herself (and to recipients of an earlier shadow touch,) or solid to others only. The magical umbra lasts 1 Day/SL level or until dispelled by the caster. The structure cannot be dispelled by other spellcasters short of disintegrate or more powerful spells.

Spell Level 6
Shadow Monsters: summons a number of HD of monsters equal to or less than half the Shadow Lord’s experience level. In most respects the spell is similar to create normal monsters. They appear as jet black versions radiating a faint aura. In addition to their own, these creatures benefit from all special abilities (SA) available to the caster, as long as they remain within an area of twilight. If exposed to daylight or complete darkness, summoned creatures incur the same penalties as their caster. They are automatically considered recipients of the caster’s shadow touch.

Inquest: allows a Shadow Lord to capture a rival’s pantomine. Its owner is allowed a saving throw vs. spells to escape. The inquest’s range is 60’ +2’/SL level, and duration is instantaneous. If a pantomime is captured, it is paralyzed (its owner may no longer dispel it.)
The caster has two options. 1. The owner’s identity and general location (direction and distance) are revealed before the pantomime is dispelled. 2. The pantomime is permanently trapped within a receptacle of the caster’s choice, rendering the owner unable to cast any sort of shadow or reflection, let alone any new pantomime or shadow play spells. The owner must find and defeat his shadow’s captor to regain lost abilities.  If the receptacle is non-magical, any dispel magic effect will release its contents.
If a pantomime resulted from shadow play, the affected owner either appears before the caster when the pantomime is dispelled, or is trapped with no hope of escape. The caster cannot readily tell whether a pantomime was issued from someone else’s shadow play.

Spell Level 7
Obscuration: renders the caster incorporeal. During this time, the caster “becomes” the prevailing dimness. The area of effect is a circle and overhead dome with a radius 5’/SL level. The spell lasts 1 Round/SL level during which the twilight within cannot be dispelled without first forcing the Shadow Lord to materialize. No one can leave the affected area, magically or physically, which appears to be surrounded with billowing shadows. Those who attempt to walk out simply reappear on the opposite side. Anyone left outside may always enter, but likewise cannot exit. Meanwhile, the Shadow Lord can see and hear all that happens inside, but not take any physical action other than casting spells from any direction. The caster must beware of self-inflicted damage from area-of-effect spells like fireballs or lightning bolts. The Shadow Lord is forced to reappear in person if enough damage is inflicted to the shadowy confines with spells or magical weapons. The billowing edge is AC -10 to hit and sustains at best half damage from area-of-effect spells. If the total damage inflicted matches the caster’s hit points, the Shadow Lord reappears in person, with half of his/her hit points left. The caster may choose to end the spell at any time.

Gray Ring of the Alumni: the name refers to a simple silver ring set with a small Night Stone that bears an etching of the Gray Circle's badge design.  This sort of magical ring enables its wearer to cast a twilight once per day as a 9th level Shadow Lord.  It is often used to hold trapped pantomimes.  Each captive enables an extra twilight spell to be cast, or an additional level of ability to the initial spell.

Kingdom of Eadrin, rendered at 8 Miles per Hex.
 Map drafted with Inkwell Ideas Hexographer application.  
Click HERE to download the map of Eadrin.  Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for her patience and editorial assistance.


EDIT: August 27th, added one SL Level 9 Special Ability and updated the Greater Pantomime spell.  

You might wonder why I didn't work these updates into the original text directly.  First, I wanted to make sure anyone could easily find the later additions.  Placing them at the end of the file seemed like one way to do it.  The other reason concerned HTML coding, which I do not master.  Inserting the new material directly just caused so many formatting problems I decided to add it here instead.  Thank you Google for doing such a dog's dinner with converting text entries.

SL Level 9 Special Ability
Gray Carcer: enables the capture of a common, natural shadow up to 30’ +2’/SL level, once per day. This special ability is instantaneous. Saving throws do not apply, however, the ability has a 50% chance of success. Odds increase +5% bonus per SL level above the victim’s, or the opposite if the Shadow Lord is of a lower level. Chances decrease another –5% for each degree of alignment difference for AD&D Game mechanics, or –10% for BECMI rules. In the former case, LG to CE would incur a –20% penalty. For this reason, many Shadow Lords favor Neutral alignment(s.)
A captor can store within his/her own self one stolen shadow for every three SL levels (3rd, 6th. 9th, etc.) Although believed irrelevant and inoffensive by most, in truth a natural shadow contains a fraction of one’s soul. Capturing a shadow bears consequences for both owner and captor.
The victim immediately loses an experience level (or 1 HD) in addition to the ability to cast any shadow or reflection of any kind. This loss is permanent until the captor is killed or releases the shadow. A Shadow Lord may not capture a shadow if this would result in the immediate death of its owner. Both the victim and the Shadow Lord can sense each other’s general direction and approximate distance (+ 0-3 miles.) A natural shadow can never be destroyed, but may be stolen by (or gifted to) another Shadow Lord who becomes the captor, provided the latter meets or exceeds the former captor’s experience. Shadow Lords may substitute captured shadows for their own when a Gray Carcer is used against them.
Holding a natural shadow captive creates a telepathic link between victim and captor. As a result, the latter gains each day one free ESP spell effect and one suggestion spell effect (1st or 2nd Edition AD&D Game) usable on the shadow’s owner without range limitation. All appropriate saving throws apply. If previously unable to cast a shadow or a reflection (such as a vampire or nosferatu), the captor gains the ability to do so, as long as at least one shadow remains captive. A captor may experience difficulties controlling a shadow in this manner if initial success odds were less than 50% (the shadow doesn’t exactly match its captor’s movements or silhouette.)
If the victim is of a higher experience level than the Shadow Lord’s, the latter gains +2 hp as long as the shadow is retained captive (Con bonus does not apply.) All abilities from captured shadows are lost if their owners are killed. Victims typically seek to kill or punish severely those who stole their shadows. The ability to withhold a captured shadow does not go away when the captor is exposed to adverse conditions (broad daylight or full darkness,) although benefits are negated until twilight resumes.

 
Spell Level 5
Greater Pantomime: similar to the minor pantomime, except the latter can speak and benefits from a telekinesis effect (as the 5th level magic-user spell.)
The greater pantomime also enables the caster to take the place of someone else’s normal, human-like shadow at any time during the spell’s duration (no save.) The impersonated shadow will match the owner’s silhouette in all ways. The spell, however, isn’t perfect, and the caster must mimic as best as possible the movements of the shadow’s owner not to be noticed. If the owner makes an unexpected gesture, the Shadow Lord must succeed a Dex check to perpetrate the ruse. If it fails, the impersonator’s own shadow replaces that of the owner. If two or more natural shadows come into contact, the caster may switch to someone else’s, restoring the previous owner’s. In all cases, switching shadows remains completely surreptitious and allows the caster to revert to the new owner’s silhouette. The Shadow Lord may run away at any time while the spell is in effect, leaving the owner without a shadow for the duration of the spell.