Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ar: Figment of the Wyvern’s Mind

This region became a part of the Kingdom of Ar as the result of a conflict between Foresthome and Ambur. The stretch of land east of Crystal Lake was a marshy wilderness infested with stirges. It had become a hideout for runaway serfs and renegades of all sorts. They established an “underground” network to help others like themselves escape from the Kingdom of Ar through Ambur and then south into what was called the Twin Peaks Borderland. The Stargazers’ Realm feigned concern when Aran nobility complained, but in truth Amburians professed a deliberate indifference. Fugitive communities were doing well, settling the region and confining the stirge peril to the darkest woods. Amburian nobility and merchants eyed the Twin Peaks Borderland with mounting interest. Bowing to pressure, their king finally issued the Starpoint Edict, formally claiming these new lands. When they heard the news, settlers banded together and established a free and independent republic, sparking the Twin Peaks Campaign.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Wyvern Hex Map
Lower Wyvern District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex

What should have been an easy takeover for Ambur’s small but capable army turned sour when the republic’s beleaguered supporters offered their allegiance to Foresthome in exchange for protection. The Sylvan Realm agreed and sent troops. Although Foresthome wielded a much stronger force, it lacked the cohesion and focus needed to dislodge Amburian occupiers. The northerners’ commanding cadre of astrophysicists and engineers proved a match to their opponents’ wild and spirited élan. The three protagonists became mired in a costly, drawn-out conflict featuring countless sallies and counter-attacks.

Meanwhile, serfs in Ar got wind of the brave little republic’s advent, and became increasingly restless. After putting down several small peasant revolts, the Kingdom of Ar decided to intervene. The recent discovery of cloudstones across the lake helped fuel the bellicose resolution. In the name of “peace,” a large fleet of skyships flew in unexpectedly from Ceafem, the old capital, and in great fanfare ostensibly took Ambur’s side. They spearheaded a speedy aerial offensive, dropped troops behind enemy lines, and quickly routed the sylvan rabble. Along the way, Aran forces repatriated or summarily executed whomever they pleased, with a particular predilection for captured leaders of the offending republic. Throngs of refugees and shattered remnants of the republic’s fledgling volunteer army fled south into sasquatch tribal lands, while skyships rained fire and destruction upon them.

Royal troops from Greenwood rushed to the rescue, and the clash degenerated into another stalemate. A neutral ground, which became known as Forestmeet, was set up for negotiations. Unwilling to sink deeper into a conflict with both Ar and Ambur, Foresthome obtained a peace resolution in exchange for withdrawing support for the ill-fated republic. An agreement was drafted formally recognizing Ar’s suzerainty over lands east of Crystal Lake, rashly locking Ambur out of the equation. As a peace guarantee, Ar acknowledged woods south of the Twin Peak Borderland as Foresthome’s exclusive sphere of interest. Soon thereafter, the Sylvan Realm established the County of Grünfold along with a clearly defined border with Ar, and began working to resettle refugees. The former republic’s surviving forces formed the new county’s backbone, and laws were put in place to outlaw serfdom. Ever since that time, Ar has patrolled the new border to prevent further escapes.

In the face of Aran military supremacy in the region, Ambur’s army proved unable to alter the course of events leading to the Forestmeet Treaty. In a way, the King of Ambur was relieved to see Ar standing between his realm and rambunctious, sprawling Foresthome. At last, he could leave the conflict behind and go back to his true passion: stargazing. To this day, however, the fateful treaty still stirs bad feelings amid local nobility, especially those who’d stood to gain lands down south, and bankers who’d financed the settlements. Having formal borders with Ar so close to Ambur’s capital, Starpoint, failed to inspire its military caste.

Over the following decades, Ar divided newly gained territories into two districts: Wyvern in the south, and Wraith nearest Ambur . The latter became an open dominion, a sort of free-trade area. It aimed to assuage Amburian bankers who still claimed civil property in the area, especially in the boomtown of Ailpon, a fast-growing borough connected with the nearby cloudstone mine. Wyvern covers the defunct republic’s stronghold, and the sons and grandsons of those who didn’t follow refugees to Foresthome see Amburians as the instigators of the Twin Peaks Campaign. Those of the stargazing pedigree rarely if ever stray into these parts.

Since the war, the land as been mostly rid of swamps and wetlands. Stirges still hold the woods covering a long ridge that nearly splits the dominion in half. Border patrols run from the fortified village of Foggy Diggs to two military checkpoints, Hoverfield and Hopchocks Towers, along the border with Foresthome. More than 61,000 Wyvernians tend the fields for the benefit of some 1,500 urban dwellers and Aran aristocrats, or toil in the cloudstone mine. The deeper half of the excavation requires water-breathing equipment since it is flooded. Sub-aquatic work is dangerous and is either well paid or reserved for condemned criminals.

Much of the farm crops are flown out from the district’s four villages, or carted over to Ailpon. In total, Lower Wyvern ranges about 90 miles north to south (145Km), covering an area nearly 4,200 square miles (10,900Km2). Nearly 40% remains as wilderness, and 55% qualifies as borderlands. Farming population is deliberately spread out as a measure to help deter peasant revolts. Local specialties include spicy black stirge boudin, which is preserved and exported as a delicacy to Skyreach. With much more rain in the summer or snow in winter due to the presence of Crystal Lake on the west shore and the Strait of Ambur on the opposite side, local climate is otherwise typical of Northern Ar.

Law enforcement remains in the hands of a military force exceeding 700, or slightly more than 1% of the district’s total population. It operates seven small skyships and two large ones. Each of the lighter vessels is assigned to a village, a tower, or one of the three floating islands hovering in the sky above Lower Wyvern. They include the H.H.M.S. Eagle, Vulture, Buzzard, Falcon, Kite, Harrier, and Osprey. The larger vessels hail from two strategic lighthouses on Upper Wyvern, including the H.H.M.S. Twin Peaks’ Condor and the viceroy’s flagship, Spirit of Forestmeet.

Local serfs resent the grim reality of their servitude even more than their counterparts in mainland Ar. Since the war, ties with Grünfold relatives survived, and their underground network still runs. . . with Amburian complicity. Out of spite, most Starpointers deliberately fail to report to authorities serfs escaping from mainland Ar. Instead, runaway workers trickle across Wraith and Wyvern Districts, and past Foresthome borders. Aran skyships maintain a constant vigil for “strays” near the border. Another sixty or so horsemen go where skyships cannot, patrolling woods and seldom-trod paths at night, or searching farmsteads. Captured fugitives are sent to the cloudstone mine and never again heard from. Meanwhile, dangerous renegades return from the Sylvan Realm, via stirge-infested-glens, with news and undying seditious ambitions.

The skyborne part of this region includes two separate districts. One is Upper Wyvern proper, the other the District of Skybridge for which Wyvern has become the caretaking authority. Both are described here, as they are currently related. Their weather is subject to the effect of altitude, and many of the structures are pressurized or involve protective domes.

Skybridge District

It originally was a joint venture between investors from Griffon, Chimera, and Crown Heaven who went bankrupt before the islands could turn a profit. Multiple rival parties hired Greenspur lawyers to defend their cases, causing litigation to go on interminably. As a neutral party, the Viceroy of Wyvern was named arbitrator and vice-regent for the derelict district.

This monumental achievement in Aran eccentricity incorporates five separate islands rising eastward from 5,200’ (1.700m) to 5,900’ (2.000m). A paved road runs along the entire length, flanked with enchanted lampposts. Bridges spanning the islands between Griffon and Wyvern Districts hang from chains fastened to levitating spheres, and are flexible enough to allow for the islands’ slow bobbing and weaving. Positional anchors prevent the spheres from drifting with the wind. The idea of a grand road in a realm where wizards mostly fly or teleport was seen as exquisitely quaint, beckoning trend-setters to use it for the sole purpose of departing from the norm. Heavily promoted, Adventures-on-Wheels did indeed appeal to the psychology of bored and blasé Aran nobility looking for something new. Seventy-two miles of it (116Km), however, came off as overkill, and consequently, residential and recreational real estate sold much more slowly than expected despite the breathtaking view across Crystal Lake. When bankruptcy reared its head, everything else there came to a halt.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Skybridge Hex Map
Skybridge District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex

Skybridge became literally abandoned for decades, a perilous wilderness with a spanking-new road running across it and palaces in various states of completion, now dilapidated. Feral creatures with flight capability moved in, along with criminals on the run, squatters, bizarre sects, and Palartarkan-knows-what else. Under Wyvernian tutelage, however, things have begun to change—some think not for the best. Parts of Skybridge Prime and much of II were cleaned up and rehabilitated. Three weathered old shyships were purchased and armed to patrol the road. Force fields were erected at either end to prevent anything questionable and potentially dangerous from getting out. In order to generate cash for the district’s recovery, Wyvernian administrators solicited outside businesses and encouraged adventurous forays, wizardly hunts, and guided visits along the road from which one could observe fights (mostly staged) between monsters and mages. The entire project earned a bewilderingly tacky reputation. . . and the upper crust loved it! In search of new sensations, the rich and glamorous began showing up under guises, as a sort of masked-ball-turned-safari.

Since Skybridge’s tawdry renaissance, a plethora of new businesses flourished along the road on the two safest islands. Entrepreneurs from various neighboring realms set up shop with Wyvern’s blessing, generally living directly on site with their staff. Taverns bearing the garish colors of owning franchises sprouted almost overnight. Low-cost fast-feast establishments perched on top of 100’-tall-pillars catered to passing skyships, with repair and service facilities below. Sprawling lots became the domains of used skyship dealers, monster zoos, imitation-haunted houses, artificial dungeons, phantasmal jousting, cheap museums, bungee-jumping off the islands’ edges, enchanted miniature-golf parks, kiddie dragon rides, as well as shops and inns with enough space for everyone to park mobile-lounges and skyships. Aeroferries full of foreign sightseers endowed with moderate budgets now regularly visit, crowding cheap attractions like waves of locusts. Meanwhile, certain nobles have begun blocking efforts to remove the surviving wilderness. Instead, they wish to preserve it out of nostalgia or to keep out the riff-raff. It’s become fashionable to build secluded summer residences on the smaller three islands, southern exposure with a view of Vortex being most popular.

In total now, more than 4,000 Bridgelings live on the floating islands, with a whopping 264 troops (more than 6% of the population) keeping the law and endeavoring to strip out dangerous wildlife from at least the main two islands. Altogether, Skybridge District covers an area more than 500 square miles (1.300Km2), half of which is now considered a borderland. All food and merchandise must be flown up, generally from the District of Wyvern.

Upper Wyvern District

With the discovery and acquisition of a major cloudstone mine in the area, it didn’t take long before the first few floating islands were sent aloft. After decades of acquisitions and mergers, Wyvern Prime took its shape, followed with two other large islands.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Wyvern Hex Map
Upper Wyvern District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex

Wyvern Prime: It is the best known and most popular of the three islands. The V-shaped-aerolith features a large lighthouse at its northern tip, the gambling palace Aetheria near the center, and the Tower of Halcyon at the opposite end. Steep hills surrounding a small mountain range at the center are home to secluded estates and a few temple complexes. Aetheria became a Mecca for Alphatian illusionists, embodying their craft with trade fairs and carnival festivals replete with phantasmal magic of all sorts. Fantastic parades march down the main thoroughfare across the resort, featuring giant animated monsters, as well as dancers, acrobats, jugglers, mimes, and marching bands augmented with the most delirious illusory trappings one can imagine. Booming drums and blaring trumpets accompany the overall cacophony of joyful amusement, while magically-propelled silly-string rises in air to festoon everyone and everything. Colored paper lamps levitate overhead and perform delightful ballets while great beams of light radiate in all directions, flashing here and there or drawing the jovial figures of King and Queen Carnival against the resort’s artificial dome. It is the capital of utter exuberance and imagination, perhaps the best ambassador of illusionism in Alphatia. Meant as an Epicurean experience, Aetheria celebrates the unbridled apotheosis of the five senses, liberating the subconscious mind to freely indulge in dreams.

One might wonder how the district earned its name. In the view of illusionists, wyverns were always thought to be products of popular imagination. Their existence was attributed to The One, a greater illusion that created a living specimen, one that engendered all the others. In a way, the ideal quest of Alphatian illusionists is to master the secret of turning phantasms into the real thing. Naturally, as district mascot, wyvernkind is treated and protected much in the way other aerial beings are in the rest of Ar. Lairs exist in the mountains, and a few establishments specialize in raising tamed specimens.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
Alphatian illusionists are a strange bunch with a philosophy that departs radically from magic-use. It is so foreign that many traditional wizards have come to loathe this bizarre craft. Rather than treating it as a separate branch of the arcane, they see it as an insult to the ancient Arts, an odious distortion of what true and respectable sorcery is. Traditional magic-use relies on spells that affect the environment. Illusionism in its purest form alters instead one’s perception of the environment, which helps explain why some wizards feel illusionists are cheats seeking shortcuts around the true craft. A few are exceedingly militant about it, seeking punitive legislation and legal ostracism as far away as the Council of Wizards in Sundsvall. But they never quite got enough support, and the party goes on all the more in Aetheria, cynical testbed of neo-illusionism applied to the masses.

Wyvern II: It is also known as The Aviary. It was once the center of the Mesmerati movement. Otherwise known as the Enlightened Fellowship of Illustrious Illusionists, it was outlawed during the past decade by most kingdoms of the empire, following a series of criminal abductions perpetrated by its members. The Viceroy of Wyvern, one of its leaders, was arrested, and his replacement ruthlessly spearheaded the hunt, seeking clues and leads about any members still at large. Most known alumni were captured and incarcerated with their families at the sinister lighthouse in the District of Harpy for re-indoctrination in the proper use of Alphatian magic. Others narrowly avoided the same fate, escaping into the thick woods on Aviary thanks to anonymous tip-offs. There are a lot of places to hide on the island, and they are very difficult to locate because, as one might expect, skillful illusions conceal hideouts and safe-houses. It is believed the Mesmerati still meet somewhere on the island, plotting their return.

The Aviary got its name from a tower that was the center of Mesmerati experimentation. Near the tower stood large domes within which all sort of curious bird-like creatures lived—and still do to this day. It appeared that most were flesh constructs made from various avian parts grafted together, no doubt the result of unspeakable experiments at the tower. It explained oversized raptor components found in the tower’s laboratories, and nearby pits full of bird bones. Still unexplained are the lightning rods on the tower and chains connecting them to coils and metallic bird cages in the dissection workshops. Birds and reptilian crossbreeds with two heads, or four wings, multiple pairs of legs, snake-like tails, and diverse magical abilities still populate the domed sanctuaries. In time, well-concealed observation decks were unveiled, from which the strange wildlife could be conveniently watched. From these vantage points, careful surveillance revealed that all these creatures were hermaphroditic, capable of reproducing on their own with completely unpredictable results. It probably justifies why these creatures were secured in the domes. The reason for all this was never quite understood despite the interrogation of Mesmerati captives. From the point of view of air-wizards, birds and creatures of flight are generally seen as beings worthy of protection and freedom under the heavens. These ghastly experimentations came as shocking news to most well-intentioned Arans, and reinforced the image of the Mesmerati as heartless torturers and persecutors.

Wyvern III: this floating island is a quiet neighborhood of aristocratic manor houses scattered among a sylvan environment. A few of the residents were unmasked as members of the Mesmerati early during the chase, but since then, things have quieted down. The island is reputed for sages specialized in outer-planar studies, and in particular of eggs from alien creatures. Generally, unexplained devices brought back from the ethereal or the astral planes end up in one of the local abodes for further examination. Wyvern-III is a good place to sell dragon eggs or the eggs of any wyrm kin. Many wizards couldn’t help but connect the two neighboring islands, one dwelling upon the crafting of bird-creatures and the other on studying eggs, but no further evidence of a link was found after the arrest of Mesmerati fugitives. A military garrison operates the navigational lighthouse. They remain on the lookout for any signs of Mesmerati activity.

Lady Dredmorn, Viceroy of Wyvern District

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
This highborn Aran wizard is the most hated figure by illusionists in general, and by surviving alumni of the Mesmerati Society in particular. As the appointed agent of the monarchy, she seeks adepts of the Mesmerati and anyone consorting with them. A former magistrate of Ar’s justice system, she often forgets the difference between prosecuting and persecuting, the ends justifying the means as long as they are enforced in the name of the law and by order of the king. She does not condone the exuberant festivities of Aetheria, but has so far failed to curb the enthusiasm and earnings they generate. Local aristocrats, many of whom are investors in the resort and major landowners on both Wyvern Prime and Lower Wyvern, see to it that no one tampers with the island’s established traditions. Lady Dredmorn avoids confronting such influential nobility directly, but she remains on the lookout for any hint of a connection with the Mesmerati, which she would ruthlessly use as a basis for (at best) discrediting them or (at worst) ordering their arrests. The viceroy is not above entrapping those she dislikes, or resorting to blackmail to further her aims. Her mercilessness is the reason why she was chosen for the position. The viceroy’s regency over Skybridge District is just as tyrannical.

She holds her court at Halcyon Tower, a sinister symbol of her power notorious for swift winds maddeningly sweeping through at all times. Surrounding hills still bear gallows from which mummified remains of tortured Mesmerati are left to swing at the whim of the gusts as a warning. Only highborn Arans whose execution Lady Dredmorn could not get away with were committed to Harpy District. She has recently turned to skillful thieves and high-paid cutthroats to eradicate the hated fellowship and intimidate supporters of the craft. These shadowy characters occasionally manage to spy on the secret society, learning about their goals and habits. They are usually eliminated fairly soon, but unfortunately some linger long enough to share their observations with their employer. The viceroy has been patiently collecting bits and pieces of information to identify not only the fellowship’s leading members, but those who consort with them. These connections bear ramifications extending as far as Sundsvall. She will mount a large-scale operation when she knows enough. Lady Dredmorn is also directly involved with the mission of dismantling the Grünfold Connection, the underground network smuggling runaway serfs into Foresthome and pro-republic activists into Wyvern District. The latter are seen as the greatest threat to the district’s political stability, and to the kingdom as a whole. It explains why Lady Dredmorn remains in power despite her many enemies.

Appearance & Personality: She stands a little over medium height, but her ascetic appearance and burning inexhaustible energy make Lady Dredmorn seem younger than her late 40s. She has hard, sharp features on an elongated triangular face. No one has seen her thin mouth smile in recent memory. She wears her long black hair brushed straight back and tied or knotted at her nape. A nasal and perfunctory voice completes her portrait. Her severe character was molded at a relatively young age when she had to assume leadership of her house: her beloved brother had been groomed for the position, but he’d been killed during a manhunt on Lower Wyvern. His death motivated her to become a priestess of Verthandi. Early in her training, she’d hoped she could travel in time to save her brother. Wisdom eventually revealed her dream’s futility, and she became bitter and unforgiving. Since then, Lady Dredmorn has long watched activities in Lower Wyvern, and has come to suspect that the Grünfold Connection might have connections with the Mesmerati. Her vow to destroy both led her to earn the title of viceroy and a royal mandate to seek revenge.

Lady Dredmorn: C25, AC3, hp 57, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 mace or spell, Dmg 1d6+3 or by spell, Save C25+2, ML10, AL C; St13, In15, Wi17, Dx11, Co 13, Ch10. Special Abilities: once a day as a cleric of Verthandi, any adverse die roll such as an attack, a saving throw, or an ability check (hers or an opponent’s) is cancelled and rerolled. Magical Items: hourglass of time-bending, gauntlet of investigation, robe of safety, ring of protection +2, and mace of delaying +2.

Hourglass of Time-Bending: this flat, silver medallion is an enchanted clerical symbol of Verthandi. Once per year, it may be activated to cause a local time shift, moving back 2d4 rounds. All events or actions taken during that time are cancelled. The effect is unnoticeable by all but upper-level clerics of Verthandi, the immortal himself and his outer-planar servants, and those who witnessed the cleric using this symbol. Time-bending involves an area corresponding roughly to a dungeon or a specific building and all its contents.

Gauntlets of Investigation: these gloves enable Dredmorn to touch a non-living object and receive a vision revealing events that occurred around it. The vision is limited to a 10’ radius and does not generate sounds. The gauntlets hold 2d6 charges. Each use burns one charge for every day into the past. The gauntlets are destroyed when the last charge is used.  The vision takes no more than 1 round per day observed.

Robe of Safety: aside from an AC5 protection, this enchanted garment provides a permanent detect danger effect (as the 1st level druidic spell) and protection from normal missiles (as the 3rd level magic-user spell). The robe also teleports its owner to her shrine if the latter is reduced to less than 10 hit points (no save). Anyone less than 10th level who happens to wear this garment is immediately teleported. Its color is like hematite, dense silvery-black.

Mace of Delaying: initially, this item comes in the form of a silver bracelet. When suddenly flicked, it turns into a mace with a lanyard wrapped around the owner’s wrist. A word of thanks to Verthandi will revert it to its original form. The mace is a +2 magical weapon inflicting upon a target a slow effect (as the reversed 3rd level magic-user haste spell) any time the owner scores an unmodified 18 or better on a hit roll. A saving throw vs. paralysis negates the effect, which otherwise lasts until the end of the combat encounter.

Parallaxian the Seer, Imperial Observer

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
King Qissling, under pressure from a group of influential aristocrats at the Council of Wizards in Sundsvall, appointed this elder Vertilian mage as an observer for the prosecution of the Mesmerati case. Rumors of brutality and abuse of power filtered back to the elite at the imperial capital, which stirred some mixed feelings there. Wishing to shed light on the matter, the council issued a request, to which the king, immersed in spell research at time, readily agreed so he could return to his business. A vote named councilman Parallaxian as their representative. It so happens that the venerable seer is a skillful illusionist, although that fact remains known to an exceedingly few souls. Armed with an imperial warrant, Parallaxian began his role as an observer at Halcyon Tower. He has legal access to all judicial proceedings and related records. The mage may observe any event related to the prosecution of the Mesmerati case, including arrests and interrogation procedures.

Although not a member of the secret society, Parallaxian believes it was unjustly treated. Fully aware that Lady Dredmorn keeps tabs on him, he manages to elude her attention and pursue his own investigation into the affair. This led him to connect in a very indirect manner with one of the society’s prominent members. Although he does not condone law-breaking, Parallaxian occasionally forewarns his shadowy contact of impending raids and the presence of spies. Lady Dredmorn resorts to an array of stratagems to avoid revealing her immediate plans to Parallaxian, but the old fox can sniff out a few things occasionally. He objects to the viceroy’s methods, and in particular to her deplorable use of cutthroats to intimidate or eliminate troublesome aristocrats. He’s been unable to gain incontrovertible proof, but circumstantial evidence alludes to her practice. A development has been disturbing him of late, however. After recent investigation, the mage concluded that the fellowship colluded to some degree with the Grünfold Connection, especially as regards the latter’s ability to smuggle fugitives out of the kingdom. The full nature of the association remains disconcertingly unclear.

Appearance & Personality: Smart, wise, diplomatic, and philosophical, Parallaxian appears to be around 70 years old. Although his stature is average, his presence makes him seem taller. His head is smooth and perfectly bald except for coarse silver hair that fans from the back of his head. His sparkling bright blue eyes are not perfectly aligned and can be confusing to look at. Even more disconcerting, blinking eyelike earrings dangle from the extended lobes of his ears. He often uses his knobby hands emphasize points he thinks are important. His voice, a velvety calm baritone, is soothing and pleasant. Parallaxian never walks in a straight line and never explains why. Earlier in his life, he was a victim of emanations from the Dimension of Nightmares. This led him to study illusionism, hoping one day to unveil the deepest secrets of the craft and eliminate its connection with the other dimension. In his dealings with Lady Dredmorn and the Mesmerati, he often finds himself having to choose the lesser of two evils. He would prefer convincing those with blood on their hands to surrender to justice, and let the others live in peace.

Parallaxian the Seer: MU9/IL18, AC3, hp 41, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 staff or spell, Dmg 1d6+1 or by spell, Save MU18, ML8, AL L; St11, In17, Wi15, Dx16, Co 13, Ch14. Special Abilities: Parallaxian’s class abilities are described in the next section. Magical Items: amulet of protection from ESP and crystal balls, scroll of encryption, knack of correlation, staff of blindness, spectacles of the marked, and robe of eyes.

Scroll of Encryption: it enables the owner to copy any inscription fitting within the scroll’s surface by simply placing the vellum on top of the area of interest. Alternatively, the owner can manually recopy maps and writings, however incomprehensible. A command word then causes everything copied, drawn, or written to vanish. A second command restores everything to perfectly readable form, decrypting any non-magical cipher or foreign language in the process. Using read magic or detect invisible spells on the scroll will trigger a feeblemind effect on the caster (as the 5th level magic-user spell).

Knack of Correlation: this item looks like a tuning fork. It is used to find a link between one or more items. When tapped against an object, it chimes with a precise A tone for a moment. Any time afterward, tapping on another object will yield the same tone if the objects are somehow connected (a murder weapon, a victim’s bones, or the front door of the one who paid the cutthroat). If an object bears no connection to the first, the fork emits instead an F sharp lower in the same octave as the A. Tapping twice resets the fork.

Staff of Blindness: this +1 staff is equivalent to a wand of enemy detection, with 2d20 charges. Each detection uses a charge. The staff also inflicts blindness upon detected enemies unless they save vs. spell. The affliction last 1d4 hours.

Spectacles of the Marked: this set of wizardly oculars relate to Alphatian illusionism (described later in this article). When worn, an illusionist can identify anyone within sight who’s come in contact with emanations from the Dimension of Nightmares, either another illusionist or victims. Their auras’ strengths indicate how recent or severe the exposure was. Someone “marked” by the Dimension of Nightmares, however, bears an unmistakable sign. If worn by a non-initiate, the oculars only display people distorted with silly illusions; if wearing them more than three rounds, a non-initiate must save vs. spell or become confused (as the 4th level magic user spell).

Robe of Eyes: this garment is blue and with blinking eyes from collar to floor-length hem that allow Parallaxian to see in all directions. It provides an AC of 5, and also generates permanent detect invisible (240’) and infravision (120’) effects. A light spell cast at the robe negates its perceptive abilities for 1d4 rounds, 2d4 rounds for a continual light. While the robe works, the owner cannot be surprised.

The craft of illusionists is one that is open to magic-users, elves, and clerics of the appropriate faith (chiefly Korotiku and Loki, but also immortals such as Harrow and Tiresias). Unlike the Sphere of Thought, the Sphere of Energy is generally the least conducive to illusionism. This path requires a minimum score of 14 in Dexterity. The technique of Alphatian illusionists partly involves emanations from the Dimension of Nightmares, which demands a certain caution. Illusionists described in the Seven Secret Crafts (see GAZ3 Principalities of Glantri) differ fundamentally from the Alphatian variety in that they remain a branch of traditional magic.

Characters with compatible classes may adopt illusionism before reaching level 10. When they do, they stop advancing in their original classes, focusing their efforts on the new craft’s mastery. Illusionists keep their current hit points, hit rolls, saving throws, and class abilities, but restart as first level characters in their original class with new illusionist skills. Once an illusionist gains enough experience to reach the original class level, normal advancement resumes—except that traditional spellcasting never improves beyond the point where it had stopped. Higher-level spells cannot be learned, however hard one might try, because illusionism conflicts with traditional magical or clerical spellcasting. At the DM’s discretion, thieves may be allowed as illusionists. If so, their thieving skills no longer improve, and their abilities to weave illusions compare with a clerical illusionist’s.

Illusionists learn early on to “get into people’s minds.” It is the basis of their technique, which allows them to alter their subjects’ perceptions of reality. Intelligence or lack thereof isn’t an issue. Smart folk are vulnerable to their imaginations and what lurks in their subconscious minds, while others aren’t perceptive enough to know better. “Unintelligent” creatures, such as primordial life forms, plants, animated skeletons, golems, and constructs all have in common some ability to perceive their environments, without which they couldn’t function. Illusionists can alter these sensory faculties, no matter how primitive, alien, or superficial. In this regard, no one is immune, including creatures listed as “immune to mind-affecting spells,” although the scope of effects should be limited to the victims’ cognitive capabilities. The biggest difference with a wizard’s phantasmal force spell is that a true illusion does not vanish when touched. It remains active for a specific duration.

Getting Into Someone’s Mind: This ability is to illusionists what the read magic spell is to magic-users. Although it doesn’t enable reading one’s thoughts, it gives the illusionist a feeling of what a subject would consider most relevant—a killer cell to a giant amoeba, a swinging hammer to a skeleton, or the ghost of a former victim to a human assassin, and so on. This action takes 1 full round of careful insight and is required for every single illusion. The subject may save vs. spells to overcome altered senses. Saving throws represent the difficulty of getting into a victim’s mind. An illusionist can keep trying as many times as desired during an encounter. Once an illusionist gets into a subject’s mind, senses can be altered to produce one of various illusions described later under Oneiromorphic Abilities.

Saving Throw Adjustments: If the illusionist is of a higher level, –1 penalty; if at least twice the victim’s level, –2 penalty; three times the level, –3, down to a maximum of –4. The opposite is also true if the illusionist is of a lower level, up to +4. A natural roll of “1” is always a failure and a “20” is always a success. Getting into minds of people or monsters never before encountered or affected results in a +2 bonus to saving throws (see book of phantasms below). A specific being affected at least once before incurs instead a –2 saving throw penalty since the illusionist already knows about the victim’s personal psychology. Trying to disbelieve sensory alteration is futile and may result in further confusion (10% chance, as the 4th level magic-user spell).

Multiple Victims: The senses of multiple subjects can be affected at the same time, based on the rank of the illusionist’s ability (see Tricks of the Trade later). A first rank ability can affect up to 5 victims, a second rank 7, a third rank 10, a fourth rank 15, a fifth rank 20, a sixth rank 30, a seventh rank 50, an eighth rank 70, and a ninth rank 100. Only one saving throw is rolled, based on the best available score in a group of victims. At the DM’s discretion, the victims’ party may receive a saving throw bonus up to +4 if their HD total exceeds the illusionist’s level, using the method suggested in the previous paragraph. Basic illusionist tricks can affect any number of people close enough to experience the effect.

Book of Phantasms: Illusionists “collect” sense-altering events much like magic-users do spells, keeping track within their books of phantasms of which creatures’ minds were penetrated during their careers. The arcane script used is unique to each illusionist, due to the complexity and personal nature of the books’ entries. An illusionist must first “break” the ciphers of a rival’s book to comprehend its contents. This requires a d20 roll above the author’s Intelligence, with a +/-1 adjustment reflecting the difference in experience levels, as shown in the previous paragraph (though reversed in this case). A natural score of 20 always succeeds provided the author’s Intelligence is 18 or less. Further attempts for each book entry can be made when attaining a new experience level. Dwelling upon another illusionist’s psychological insights is tricky business. A modified score of zero or worse causes feeblemindedness (as the 5th level magic-user spell). The affliction cannot be dispelled, but a clerical 6th level cureall spell will restore an illusionist’s sanity.

There are three general categories of subjects—people, wildlife, and objects. Human and demi-human character classes are too vague to be of use by themselves, therefore they must be split into at last one subcategory describing culture, profession, philosophy, or nationality. Specific people can be listed as well. People entries could be listed as follows—Stoutfellow dwarf, elven merchant prince, Aran wizard, halfling pirate, cleric of Thanatos, Amburian astronomer, Bagnigobblak the Troll King, etc. Wildlife, including animals and monsters, only requires the specific race to be listed (grizzly bear, giant scorpion, orc, storm giant, red dragon, lich, etc) as described in the standard list of D&D Game monsters. Things of an unusual nature, such as traps, falling walls, and other uncommon animations also require entries in books of phantasms. They must have been experienced personally in an illusionist’s career before they can be simulated and therefore listed here (see Tricks of the Trade). Illusions of people and wildlife in this book may be created later.

Tricks of the Trade

Illusionists rely on oneiromorphic abilities to affect their subjects. These abilities are innate and do not require preparation at the beginning of each day. They are ranked to emulate traditional spell levels, inferring that illusionists can use these abilities as traditional spellcasters would spells. However, illusionists can never cast more traditional spells than their previous class allowed. Furthermore, each oneiromorphic ability takes the place of one traditional spell of comparable power. When outgrowing their original class levels, illusionists must use any additional spell slots exclusively for oneiromorphic abilities. Unless written otherwise, effects described in this section take place the round after which an illusionist succeeded in tampering with a subject’s senses. There are no additional saving throws beyond those related to “getting into someone’s mind”.

Spellcasting Example: a 9th level cleric inspired to take on illusionism would still cast clerical spells as a 9th cleric, but qualify only as a 1st level illusionist initially. As such, a clerical illusionist has no oneiromorphic abilities until 2nd level, whereas arcane or elven illusionists have at least one. There are, however, basic tricks illusionists always have, regardless of experience level, which will be described later.

Range & Duration: How far away from the subject any illusion appears is irrelevant, since it is part of sensory alteration. An illusion could be seen as standing within arm’s length or at the limit of eyesight. Illusionists, however, cannot affect anyone they cannot clearly see—in this respect “range” remains 240’ in broad daylight, half that in dimmer conditions. Unless stated otherwise, effects last as long as an illusionist can maintain concentration. While concentrating, the illusionist can move a few steps but not take any other action or sustain any damage. Dispel magic does not work against illusions unless directed at the victims (but measured against the illusionist’s experience level).

Basic Illusionist Tricks: These harmless tricks are somewhat equivalent to magic-users’ cantrips. Any illusionist always has at least four of these in addition to oneiromorphic abilities. Beyond the initial four, a first rank oneiromorphic ability can be traded for another four tricks. Some do not require “getting into someone’s mind” to succeed. An ability check is enough to perform some of these tricks. They are described below:

Card Tricks: these are typical tricks involving card games, based on Dexterity. An illusionist can manipulate cards once during a game to help determine who wins or loses. Those fleeced in such a manner get an Intelligence check to realize what happened.

Legerdemain: this skill is sufficient to perform one trick on stage and entertain people, such as manipulating small objects, pulling a rabbit out of a hat, etc. The trick is based on Dexterity.

Pick Pockets: illusionists can pick pockets as thieves half their experience levels.

Optical Illusion: it enables the creation of very simple eye tricks, usually within a 10’x10’ area, such as casting a furtive shadow, changing the color of an object, making a static object look as if it stood a foot away from its actual position, etc. The effect is limited to specific victims whose senses are affected.

Auditory Component: it enables the creation of background sounds, such as soft music, distant footfalls, an indistinct conversation, an eerie whisper, a knock on a door, etc. It can be used to add an echo effect to a location, or remove it entirely. The effect is limited to specific victims whose senses are affected.

Olfactory Component: it is used to add or alter any single odor, specific to a nearby object, person, or location. It can be used instead to mask a scent well enough to confuse animals. This trick can also alter an object’s gustatory properties. The effect is limited to specific victims whose senses are affected.

Tactile Component: it alters the physical feel of an object, swapping rough with smooth, furry with scaly, warm with cool, soft with hard, dry with wet or viscous, and so on. In the absence of visual perception, the apparent shape of an object can be altered. The effect is limited to specific victims whose senses are affected.

Oneiromorphic Abilities

Unless stated otherwise:
  1. Effects described below are limited to specific victims whose senses are affected (see Getting into Someone’s Mind earlier).
  2. Physical damage is illusory. Petrifaction only results in paralysis, level draining is temporary, and imaginary death only causes unconsciousness, all of which lasting 1d4 Turns.
  3. Physical damage should be no more than what is expected from a real version of a simulation, and vanishes when the illusion ends.
Nagging Invulnerability
Rank 1
Duration: one combat encounter
This subterfuge convinces affected victims their attacks aren’t reaching the illusionist, although they might. Any damage actually inflicted (secretly recorded by the DM) cannot be observed on the person of the illusionist who appears instead to be mocking attackers. The illusion ends if the illusionist actually passes out. Once triggered, this subterfuge does not require further concentration.
Hah! Natural 20! I hit AC –7!”
Sorry, you missed! And your foe laughs at you.”

Phantasmal Summons
Rank 1
Duration: concentration
This ability convinces victims whose senses have been affected that they see imaginary creatures. Phantasmal summons must be chosen from creatures listed in the illusionist’s book of phantasms. What they do is entirely at the illusionist’s discretion while concentration is maintained. Up to five creatures of the same type can be imagined, totaling no more than 10 XP (as described in the D&D Game’s standard monster listing). A 1st level illusionist could therefore produce five illusory rats, two goblins, or one orc. From the point of view of victims, creatures respond exactly as described in the game rules, including their hit points, attacks, armor class, saving throws, special abilities, etc. Unlike a traditional magic-user’s phantasmal force, these imaginary creatures do not vanish when merely touched or hit.
"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"

Rank 1
Duration: concentration, up to the emulated spell’s own duration
Simulcast imitates a traditional spell meant as an attack against someone, such as magic missile, hold person, web, fireball, polymorph other, insect plague, etc. There are several conditions for what can be imitated. The illusionist must have been the victim of the spell at least once and have missed any required saving throw. As such, the spell should be recorded in the illusionist’s book of phantasms. The illusionist must be of an experience level appropriate to the emulated spell. Victims must also be spellcasters or have some knowledge of the emulated spell in order to fear its effects. The latter is at the DM’s discretion or subject to a random check (10% chance, +5% per HD up to +130%, minus 5% per spell level down to a minimum 1% total chance). For example, a 7th level illusionist could emulate a polymorph other spell, causing victims to think and act as if they had been transformed into red dragons; they would drop what weapons they held, roar, claw the air in front of them, pretend to breathe fire, or attempt to fly off a cliff to escape. “Getting into the victim’s mind” enables the illusionist to know whether a spell effect is known.
Unclean beast! Get thee down! Be thou consumed by the fires that made thee!”

Divination of Contrariness
Rank 2
Duration: One day.
This ability causes victims whose senses have been affected to “misread” any future detection spells, observing instead the exact opposite of what they were hoping for, or indeed what they worried about. Once triggered, this deception does not require concentration; it feeds on the victims’ imagination. For example detect magic might inform a spellcaster that nothing magical lies in a treasure, or that indeed something does which isn’t enchanted at all. The same subterfuge affects spells and natural detection abilities, suggesting incorrect conclusions (detect alignment, danger, evil, invisibility, hear noise, track by smell, etc).
You know, my dear, the moment I looked into your eyes I knew that you did not have the mind for the noble art of Divination.”

Hallucinatory Recall
Rank 2
Duration: permanent until triggered
This ability enables the illusionist to effect a “delayed” version of the magic-user’s traditional phantasmal force spell. The illusion, based on what the illusionist learned of a past victim, is centered on a 10’x10’ area or on a specific object. It is triggered when the intended victim enters the area of effect or touches the object. The victim gets a saving throw only at this point, as described in Getting into Someone’s Mind. The illusionist needs not be present when the illusion is triggered. The phantasmal force acts in part according to the author’s initial intent and the victim’s own distraught imagination. Victim and effect must both have been listed in the illusionist book of phantasms before using this ability. If more than one victim are affected, only one of them can actually trigger the effect.
For the record, if I don't make it out of here, don't put me down for mummification.”

Phantasmal Watch
Rank 2
Duration: concentration + 2d4 rounds
As the first rank phantasmal summons, except that up to seven creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 25 XP. If imaginary creatures survive past the illusionist’s concentration, they linger another 2d4 rounds, acting in accord with the victims’ own distraught imaginations, possibly pursuing them beyond the illusionist’s sight. Concentration can be voluntarily or involuntarily ended. The illusionist can always dismiss his or her own phantasmal summons at any time.
"Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war."

Ominous Dream
Rank 3
Duration: one rest period
When getting into their minds, the illusionist “tags” the senses of victims’ for later use rather than effecting an illusion straight away. Such a sensory tag can be preserved no more than a day. During this deferred period, residual influences trigger disturbing dreams when victims attempt to rest, implanting fake messages, misleading suggestions, vacuous portents, etc. Once triggered, they last 1d4 rounds after which victims startle awake with impending feelings of doom preventing any further sleep until the next resting period.
Your love brought me back. Back to where you are now. In the land of dreams.”
— “Are you a dream, Merlin?”
A dream to some. . . A nightmare to others.”

Phantasmal Squad
Rank 3
Duration: concentration + 2d6 rounds
As the second rank phantasmal watch, except that up to ten creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 55 XP.
"Very pretty. . . but can they fight?"

Subjective Aura
Rank 3
Duration: one encounter
The illusionist implants the affected victims’ minds with the notion that a course of action would be in their benefit. Because it relies on unspoken concepts much like ESP, the illusory hint must be fairly basic and limited to the victims’ cognitive faculties. The notion cannot suggest an act obviously harmful to the subjects. It can be used to alter the subjects’ response to the illusionist and his/her companions’ presence.
"These aren't the droids you're looking for."
"These aren't the droids we're looking for."
"He can go about his business."
"You can go about your business. Move along. Move along."

Phantasmal War Band
Rank 4
Duration: concentration + 2d8 rounds
As the second rank phantasmal watch, except that up to fifteen creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 130 XP. The war band also exposes the victims’ senses to influences from the Dimension of Nightmares. As a result, 20% of damage inflicted to victims (rounded up) counts as actual shock damage. Other forms of attack that do not inflict physical damage remain entirely illusory.
Oh, yeah. This just keeps gettin' better and better.”

Resilient Mirage
Rank 4
Duration: Special
The mirage enables the illusionist to alter the appearance of a victim’s environment, as a magic-user’s traditional hallucinatory terrain spell would. The difference is that the illusion does not vanish when touched and can be “programmed” as a second rank hallucinatory recall. It demonstrates all expected sensorial components (optical, auditory, tactile, and olfactory), with some limited animation (birds flying by, leaves rustling, a splashing brook, etc). Any interaction between this altered environment and the victim remains entirely a product of the latter’s imagination. Although the illusion itself is harmless, walking on a bridge that does not actually exist could still prove lethal. The effect lasts a day per experience level of the illusionist.
“Were they sent to Hell?”
—“Worse. Wisconsin. For the entire span of human history.”

Subjective Cloak
Rank 4
Duration: Concentration
When getting into their minds, the illusionist “tags” the senses of victims’ for later use rather than effecting an illusion straight away. Such a sensory tag can be preserved no more than a day. During this deferred period, the illusionist may trigger a kind of invisibility undetectable from the victims (but not from observers who weren’t affected). This subterfuge convinces victims that the illusionist and accompanying party aren’t present, negating objective evidence such as footprints in the dust, noise, smell, faerie fire, etc. Attacking victims does not break this illusion either. The effect requires uninterrupted concentration during which the illusionist may only half-move and take no other action. The accompanying party is free to act but must remain within sight of the illusionist at all times. If concentration is broken or anyone among of the accompanying party exits the illusionist’s field of vision, the deception ends.
“Hey, could you explain something to me? Now that I can go invisible, I can’t be let out of sight! Now how does that make sense?”
— “You see, it doesn’t have to. When you’re invisible, the only person who can truly watch you is yourself.”
“Wow, could you print that up and put it on a keychain for me?”

Lesser Discombobulation
Rank 5
Duration: concentration
In the victims minds up is down, down is up, left is right, right is left, everyone speaks backward, and nothing looks straight. Victims incur a 2pt penalty to their hit rolls, armor classes, and saving throws, and cannot cast spells or use any magic requiring spoken commands. If concentration lasts more than 3 rounds (plus the victims’ Intelligence or Wisdom bonuses—whichever is highest), victims must save vs. spell of contract a form of insanity (permanent until treated with a cureall spell).
I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Phantasmal Battle Clan
Rank 5
Duration: concentration + special
As the fourth rank phantasmal war band, except that up to twenty creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 300 XP. If they survive, imaginary creatures last for an entire battle encounter plus 3d6 rounds.
We who have seen war, will never stop seeing it. In the silence of the night, we will always hear the screams.”

Lesser Impersonation
Rank 6
Duration: 1 Hour
When getting into their minds, the illusionist “tags” the senses of victims’ for later use rather than effecting an illusion straight away. Such a sensory tag can be preserved no more than a day. During this deferred period, the illusionist may trigger a lesser impersonation. The victims’ senses are altered, enabling the illusionist to impersonate one of them or a previous victim. There is no way to tell the two apart, unless the illusionist does not speak the subject’s language. In all other respects, the illusion faithfully emulates tone and timber of voice, clothing, gait, mannerisms, smell, physical size, equipment including magical items but only in the view of those affected and what they know of the subject being impersonated. Victims have every reason to believe the impostor is the real McCoy unless the two stand next to each other, and one does not know an agreed-upon password or some such verification if any had been established.
An honest man has nothing to fear, so I am trying hard not to be afraid.”

Phantasmal Swarm
Rank 6
Duration: concentration + special
As the fourth rank phantasmal war band, except that up to thirty creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 750 XP. If they survive, imaginary creatures last for an entire battle encounter plus one Turn (or until victims faint from their own imaginary deaths).
"We all end up dead, the question is how and why."

Rank 7
Duration: one rest period
Similar to the third rank ominous dream, this ability also causes a single victim to face one or more malfera during the dream stage (see description below). The visiting malfera’s hit points should be no more than the victim’s. Up to 80% of any imaginary damage converts to shock damage when the victim awakes. If he/she “died” in the dream, the victim must save vs. spell of suffer a form of insanity (permanent until treated with a cureall spell).
“Are you frightened?”
— “Yes.”
“Not nearly frightened enough. I know what hunts you.”

Malfera*: AC3, HD9** (L), MV 60’(20’), AT 2 claws/1 bite + special, Dmg 1d10/1d10/1d6, Save F13, ML 11, Int 10, AL C. Special Attacks: if both pincers hit, victim is dragged to the malfera’s chest on the next round; tentacles on the malfera’s chest trap the victim and inflict 2d6 points of acid damage per round; poison breath—save at +3 or die. Special Defenses: +1 or better weapon to hit. Special Abilities: knock and detect invisible at will. Description: elephant head with large fangs and horns, short slimy wriggling tentacles on chest, jagged pincers, webbed and clawed feet, black skin with throbbing red veins, glowing red eyes.

Phantasmal Phalanx
Rank 7
Duration: concentration + special
As the fourth rank phantasmal war band, except that up to fifty creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 1,800 XP. If they survive, imaginary creatures last for an entire battle encounter plus one Hour (or until victims faint from their own imaginary deaths). The phantasmal phalanx exposes the victims’ senses to greater influences from the Dimension of Nightmares. As a result, 50% of damage inflicted to victims (rounded up) counts as actual shock damage. Other forms of attack that do not inflict physical damage remain illusory.

Greater Impersonation
Rank 8
Duration: 1 Day
Similar to the sixth rank lesser impersonation, except that the illusionist and his/her companions can each impersonate previous victims (or the illusionist if desired). Though they can all mimic the same person or different people each, impostors must have some familiarity with impersonated subjects. The subterfuge holds true only in the eyes of this illusion’s victims, therefore impostors all see each other as they really are. While the deception is in effect, impostors do not necessarily need to stay together.
If you dress like Halloween, ghouls will try to get in your pants.”

Phantasmal Cohort
Rank 8
Duration: concentration + special
As the seventh rank phantasmal phalanx, except that up to seventy creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 4,300 XP. If they survive, imaginary creatures last for an entire battle encounter plus one Day (or until victims faint from their own imaginary deaths).
To the legion of the lost ones, to the cohort of the damned.”

Greater Discombobulation
Rank 9
Duration: Permanent
This ability is a stronger and permanent version of the fifth rank lesser discombobulation. The illusionist’s mind’s eye evokes a reflection of the Dimension of Nightmares, discombobulating an area 300’ radius. It lies halfway between the Prime Plane and the Dimension of Nightmares. In addition to the effects of lesser discombobulation, gravity is reversed for any loose object weighing 5cn or less, an illusory wind blows in slow motion through unbound hair and clothing, “black light” illuminates the area, grotesque squeals and grunts sound from random spots, and physical structures become twisted as in an Escher-like world. A saving throw vs. paralysis is required to reach portals or stairwell landings. Failure causes the last few steps to extend inexplicably; a subsequent saving throw must be successful to get through. Anyone who attempts to run is slowed (as the reversed third-level-magic-user haste spell—no save). Each Turn, random creatures from the Dimension of Nightmares have a 10% chance of appearing or disappearing. Likewise, visitors have the same odds of bleeding through into the other dimension unless they save vs. spell. Although the illusionist is immune to these effects, companions or illusionists 20th level or less are not. Greater discombobulation is a permanent effect that only a traditional magic-user’s wish spell can undo. This ability does not require “getting into the minds” of victims; it is a tangible emanation from the Dimension of Nightmares.
You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

Mystara Alphatia Ar Discombobulation

Phantasmal Legion
Rank 9
Duration: permanent
As the seventh rank phantasmal phalanx, except that up to a hundred creatures can be imagined, totaling no more than 10,000 XP. Imaginary creatures are permanent until “killed” or victims faint from their own imaginary deaths. The phantasmal legion exposes the victims’ senses to tangible emanations from the Dimension of Nightmares. As a result, 80% of physical damage inflicted to victims (rounded down) counts as actual shock damage. Other forms of attack that do not inflict physical damage remain illusory. This ability does not require getting into the minds of victims as it is a tangible emanation from the Dimension of Nightmares.
Now, once more, I must ride with my knights to defend what was, and the dream of what could be.”

Dimension of Nightmares Influence

Most Alphatian illusionists think their craft is entirely due to their personal skills and ingenuity. This isn’t entirely true. Oneiromorphic abilities are laced with influences from the Dimension of Nightmares, which may leave residual traces in the Prime Plane. Any time a victim (or at least 1 out of 3 if more than one) faints as the result of imaginary death (or actually perishes as the result of an illusion), the Dimension of Nightmares may “bleed-through” the Prime Plane at that spot. An ominous event takes place when the illusionist ceases to concentrate on the illusion, unless he/she succeeds a saving throw vs. spell. Average out the illusionist’s experience level and the victim’s HD (rounded down). If multiple victims were involved, add a +2 adjustment to their basic HD for every full group of 10 creatures. Look up the total on the chart below and roll 2d4. With a roll of 2-3, shift one row down; with 4-6 no change; 7-8 up one row.

Relative HD
Dimension of Nightmares’ Influence
31 and above
1. Stalker: a nightmarish alter-ego of the victim (with as many HD as the illusionist or a comparable party of malfera) stalks the illusionist; waits for the best opportunity to attack; appears at night 3d% feet from the illusionist and vanishes at sunrise if still alive; permanent until slain.
26 to 30
2. Gate: opens an invisible gate to the Dimension of Nightmares for 3d6 days.
21 to 25
3. Greater Emanation: a cloud of flies centered on the illusionist fills a 40’x40’ area for 3d6 rounds (Dmg 10/round, MV 60’/20’)
18 to 20
4. Chaos Stigmata: illusionist gains +1 Int linked to a mental affliction; both are permanent until treated with a cureall spell.
15 to 17
5. Marked: add 1 HD to the illusionist when consulting this chart; effect is permanent and cumulative.
12 to 14
6. Dark Omen: outer planar visions disable the illusionist for 1d4 rounds and negate the illusionist’s next rest period
9 to 11
7. Psychic Wound: –1 Int or Wis (whichever is highest) until someone else faints as a result of the illusionist’s talents
6 to 8
8. Lesser Emanation: reverse gravity in effect for any loose object weighing 5cn or less within a 30’ radius; lasts 4d6 hours.
3 to 5
9. Minor Portent: outer planar visions disable the illusionist for 1 round
1 to 2
10. No Effect

For example: a 36th level illusionist affects 100 centaurs, adjusting by 20 (2x10) the centaurs’ basic 4HD. The average is therefore 30 (36+24=60, 60/2=30). A d10 roll yields an 8, shifting the result one row up.

Note: Several references are made to insanity in this article. Geoff Gander wrote an excellent article on Pandius, labeled Insanity, Horror, and the Outer Beings in Mystara. Click here for details and scroll down to the section labeled Losing Sanity.

The Mesmerati Society

This association originally adopted as their main goal the promotion and protection of illusionism. They seek to establish their craft to be accepted and treated as any other branch of magic. As the skills of illusionists grew, rancor among traditional magic-users surged. Critics often accuse illusionists of selling out the Prime Plane to the Dimension of Nightmares in exchange for their craft, a deep-seated, gut-level fear that isn’t exactly baseless. High-placed wizards in subject kingdoms or in Sundsvall are pushing for laws to eradicate the strange craft, while others quietly take matters into their own hands. Yet, enough influential mages and clerics, some of whom are illusionists, have prevented any official measure from being taken. Attitudes among subject kingdoms and colonies vary accordingly.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
To protect its members from abuse, the association became clandestine and militant. Several unresolved abductions have led Sundsvall to outlaw the Mesmerati. To pursue their goal, the Mesmerati have become talented in the art of penetrating circles of civilian society or the military to stay informed and take action where most appropriate. In truth, the shadowy association has indeed made a pact, but not with anyone or anything in the Dimension of Nightmares. Their secret allegiance lies with the Dimension of Mirage and all matters concerning the Sphere of Thought. Their belief is that the original wyvern that led to the birth of the monster race on the Prime Plane was the figment of an immortal's thought on Mirage. It was strong enough to have traveled the multiverse and reached the Prime Plane, where it reproduced and vanished for reasons unknown. Consensus infers that “The First” faded from existence as it created the new race.

It was further understood by those who visited Mirage that reviving The First would be a step on the path toward immortality. An appropriate herald from the Sphere of Thought would come forward and offer guidance at that point. Since this idea pervaded the Mesmerati’s upper circles, high-level members have sought ways to construct such a mythical being. Although allied to support the tenets of their secret society, Mesmerati leaders compete toward this goal. They established networks of lesser illusionists to research and produce spectral elements of “their” wyvern—here a spectral heart, there a bone shadow, a wisp of tongue, or the ethereal blink of an eye. These endeavors require distilling Essence of Mirage, obtained at great cost from outer-planar sources. Resulting components are fleeting at best, intolerant of the slightest error and lasting a few days each while the moon reaches plenitude. These phantom parts are secretly delivered to the top of the chain and tested, in hopes of, one day, assembling the myriad working, living pieces that will embody The First.

Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for character appearances and editorial contributions.


  1. Once again, that darned bloglist did not update... Grrr!

  2. AWSOME.
    I saw some of Star Wars even. And I'd imagine the Old Twin Peaks series applied here too. With all the illusionary, no wonder.
    As if a Tessarect (as from Escher) wasn't worse enough, you made it blurry. great.

    1. Here's another quote I forgot:

      "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."

      Let me now if you run across fun quotes that would be better than the ones I came up with. :-)


  3. Absolute stunning post, I love it.

    Two thumbs up, Bruce! :-)

    1. Thanks, Bone! The game mechanics will need playtest though...

  4. Another nice one Bruce.

    I'm curious though, why Verthandi for Lady Dredmorn as opposed to say Khoronus or someone else? Do you picture Verthandi having much of a following within Alphatia?

    I was going to post some other suggestions for alternatives, but I realised this is a bigger topic than I thought so instead I started a thread at the piazza about Time Immortals within Alphatia:

    1. I picked Verthandi because I wanted an immortal that fit Dredmorn's background. Verthandi is about time travel, and is vague enough that I could pretty much do whatever I wanted. :)

      Verthandi would be a minor immortal in the scope of Alphatian philosophies.

  5. I love the coats of arms. It looks like you had even more fun than usual - I especially like the Mesmerati one. It must be hell for them to produce it on crests and such - luckily, being a clandestine group, they wouldn't have much need to do so! ;-)

    One point about dimensions - surely Mirage is not a dimension but rather an outer plane.

    1. Now that I have better software, I can use images and effects than that my coat of arms app does not offer. The Mesmerati badge was easy to do. I first created a coat of arms with a simple labyrinth pattern. Then I took the initial heraldic design into another app to distort it. Finally, I placed the distorted design into a round badge. Some going back and forth here, but not at all a time-consuming process compared to some other designs. :)

      The Mesmerati would use a small token design hidden on their person to prove their membership to one another. The design would have been otherwise predating the sect's banishment.

    2. Mirage is described on pg 123 of Wrath of the Immortals as a dimension.

  6. Another question: I can't help wondering, why the connection between wyverns and illusion? I must confess I don't know much about wyverns, but is there a reason for choosing this pairing? Or did you make the connection by yourself?

    Either way, it's an interesting addition to a monster I have always considered to be not much more than an unintelligent dragon. I'm really enjoying the monster lore you've been giving us "on the side" during your Ar write-ups.

    1. Common wyverns are those described the monster listing. "The First" would be a mythical creature, and a maguffin for the Mesmerati.

      When I first drew the floating islands' map, I used the names of various flying monsters with the idea I would come up with some plot for each of them. In researching the wyvern, I ran across a parallel between chimera and wyvern being imaginary creatures. Since Chimera was already done, I thought of pushing an imaginary wyvern instead as the focal point for a class of Alphatian illusionists. This association is essentially fortuitous and the result of "organic" creativity as opposed to a "systematic/logical" treatment. :)

      One of the intents of Ar as a series is to give some alternative spins on somewhat boring monsters. The harpy was a good example of this.


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