Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Innate Magic People Part 11

This week's artist is Stu Harrington, an up-and-coming artist with a lot of cool works! Some of them are based on existing universes, so I tried to get those with a more generic theme for this article.
In Ahneria, nearly everyone can cast a little bit of magic, but some people can cast full-on spells. I decided it would be fun to detail out a set of NPCs based on the first level spells. As I said in the previous article, these are people who are somewhat common, but might have gained notoriety or fame based on their abilities.

These NPCs form an ongoing set of articlesThis is the eleventh in this series, and covers the first half of the eighth-level spells. These spells are so powerful, that anyone who can use them innately will likely cause a lot of crazy things to happen before they can control their power. These are the type of people that could define entire settings, worlds, or beyond.

Mara Dazi
Spell: Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting (XGtE pg. 150)
Her name is whispered in the streets of every city of the world, Mara the dust-bringer, Mara the Desiccated, Mara sand-drinker. Not long ago, she appeared in Uscios, the largest port city in the world, demanding fealty or death. Not a week later, the city had been turned into a dry, crumbling ruin. The country it was in had been reduced to a desert. No life remained that she did not will to survive. Those who swore their lives to her were spared, forced to serve her hand and foot. They were allowed to drink water, though never in front of Mara Dazi. The sight disgusted her.

The loss of dozens of shipping routes and millions of gold worth of provisions dealt a blow to the countries surrounding the Bay of Glea. They gathered together to wipe out this terrifying threat, but one by one their lands were reduced to scorching deserts. Meanwhile, Mara’s cadre of servants continued to grow, until the small nomadic band of warriors became an army in its own right. Those who were spared the desert’s wrath were forced to join their group as well, providing food and services for Mara’s war efforts.

The news of this terrible catastrophe has finally reached the ears of King Alric, Lord of Oturis, the greatest military bastion on the Northern shores. The Sand-Drinker plans to spread across the continent of Gleatiir, taking out Oturis and claiming the whole of the continent for herself. But even if she is stopped, the damage may be too late. The scorched sands have already begun to alter the climate of the continent, or perhaps the world. The snow that frosts the walls of Oturis has already begun to recede, and King Alric is worried that this is not the result of an early Spring, but a sign of the coming of Mara the Desiccated.

Rois Ashvin
Spell: Animal Shapes (PHB pg. 212)
The islands of Imelix are difficult to find. Located in a vast ocean of storms and sea monsters, it is rare for outsiders to survive the trip to find the islands. However, those who do are rewarded with a sight that would leave scholars in tears: ancient ruins, perfectly preserved, with millennia of history carved into their walls. They have not been destroyed by war or erased by vandals. They lie in the eye of the great storm that surrounds them, untouched by rain and foul weather. The only occupants seem to be the numerous animals that occupy the islands. Those who built the ruins seemed to have vanished suddenly and permanently.

The story of this mystery goes back thousands of years, when the people of the Imelix islands still lived happy lives on their small islands. They sailed, fished, built, shared stories, and never dared to pass through the wall of storms that surrounded their society. But one day, a boat washed ashore. Its passenger had black skin and white hair, thin ears and a starved, skeletal figure. The people of the islands took him in, but noticed a rash of disappearances happening in the village harboring him. Unable to communicate with him, they killed him. And at that moment, the people of every island were transformed into every manner of animal. It’s unknown if the stranger had anything to do with the kidnappings, but he was certainly responsible for the abandonment of the ruins.

Recently, rumors have begun to fly in ports around the world that the ten-thousand-year storm might finally be coming to an end. The mystery of the islands of Imelix will finally be open to the world, and those who can decipher the ancient mystery might discover the ancient treasure of the people of the island - a vault filled with priceless gems, gold, and history.

Ab-chillies, demigod of abs
Bora Jin
Spell: Antimagic Field (PHB pg. 213)
Everyone still speaks about the day the magic died, even though it happened over a decade ago. The world changed into an apocalyptic landscape overnight, with protection spells failing, experiments going awry, and magically-restrained monsters breaking their bonds. All across the continent of Hislura, cities and homes were pillaged, wizards were gathered and interrogated, and chaos ruled for the first time in one thousand years. Finally, a scholar named Felix Gaos discovered a prophecy that foretold of this tragedy, but was lost to time with great consequence. All signs pointed to a child born at the zenith of the fall of magic.

To Tikva Jin, her child Bora was perfect, even if she could no longer use any of her spells of healing as soon as her child came into this world. Their home in the great city of Atoris, along the coast of Hislura darkened with the loss of magic. Tikva knew that a call had gone out to find a child born at the moment of the magical collapse, and fled with her progeny. She established her family in a new city, Daphith, and claimed her child had been born a few days before the incident. This small town had never heard of the prophecy, and thought the end of magic was caused by a greater demon or archdevil. After a fruitless search, the world slowly adjusted to the lack of magic in it, and young Bora was allowed to grow up like any other child.

As Bora grew up, they always felt somewhat strange. Despite the world losing all its magic, the child had occasional flashes of arcane power, coinciding with mysterious magical recurrences all over the world. Magic mechanisms long-dead would spring to life for a brief moment, potions would glow mysteriously for a few seconds, and someone reading a spellbook might accidentally set off a fireball spell. After great pressure, Tikva revealed the truth to her child: Bora might indeed be the reason magic left the world. Now, they must face the reality that a small emotional outburst might be enough to reignite the arcane flame of the world, with the potential to cause a second great catastrophe in their time.

Jacinth Wayson
Spell: Antipathy/Sympathy (PHB pg. 214)
Jacinth Wayson is only seven and already has the perfect life. In her lavish castle, everyone loves her, adores her, and will do anything for her. Five of her maids fought over who would help Jacinth pick out a dress, and her three fathers obey every whim she has, from asking for a pet deer, to creating a garden out of candy and sweets. Everyone she meets when she walks through town greets her and wishes her well, and not one person who has met her has ever had a bad thought about Jacinth.

In fact, she is so beloved that her protectors are beginning to fear for her safety. Not that anyone would harm her, of course. The more she is seen walking amongst people, the more people want to follow her and protect her. And the greater their desire to protect her, the more cult-like factions spring up around her, leading to infighting between the members of her following. The opportunity to get close to Jacinth leads to bloody and vicious politics, with backstabbing and even war. Jacinth barely understands, only becoming sad whenever a friend dies. No one in her service lets her stay sad for very long, however, and her attention is constantly vied for.

As Jacinth’s following grows, so does the tension among the nations surrounding her homeland of Klosia. The political unrest in Klosia has caused several nations to attack the borders, but they invariably surrender when Jacinth appears before them. Troops swear fealty to their new queen, then return to their homes and slaughter those who disagree with them. Jacinth never sees this, though. Nobody would dare upset her with stories of bloodshed and violence. All they want to do is to keep her happy, to love her, to protect her. Forever.

Kalypso Runi
Spell: Clone (PHB pg. 222)
In the large country of Ubul, The Masked are elites that rule over every branch of government and power-filled entity that exists, from the Teqen mountains to the Emon coast thousands of miles away. The Masked run the largest companies, the churches, and guilds, not to mention the underworld and black markets as well. Everyone in this upper echelon wears a unique, distinguishing mask that displays different animals and emotions, from the pleasant to the grotesque and disturbing. They have an iron grip on the machinations of Ubul.

The commoners, or the Unmasked, are treated as lessers in society, filling the roles as workers, makers, laborers. They don’t have any power against The Masked, and uprisings are quickly silenced by Masked warriors. The Masked make all of the decisions, and rumor has it they can all communicate telepathically. Never once has a member of the Masked cracked, given in to the Unmasked, or defected. The only times they speak to The Unmasked are to hand down instructions or sentencing for a crime.

What the Unmasked don’t know is The Masked is comprised of one person and their impressive collection of clones. Every Masked wears the same face beneath their disguise, hence the need for varied masks. Kalypso Runi has been ruling over Ubul for years, and has finally expanded to fill all the roles of importance in the expansive country. Their next step is to take over the world, and share their totalitarian way of life across the map. They have already started making bids for power in the villages of the Teqen mountains, and extending their reach from the ports along the Emon coast. 

The dead start to walk in their masquerade...
Sabiya Kiwid
Spell: Control Weather (PHB pg. 228)
They call it the Age of Calamity. For 700 years storms raged, destroying the world as it was known. Coastal cities were wiped off the map, followed by inland cities, followed by mountainous societies, until there was no place on the planet that was safe from the surging wind and torrential rain. Countries were disbanded, law and order fell, and those who survived the first assault found terribly few other places they could settle down. Even among the safest havens in the world, there was little hope. The Underdark flooded, the deep-sea societies of sea elves and Tritons were wracked with terrible currents, even the highest peaks of the Cubreon mountains were struck by rogue lightning and the occasional tornado.

The communities that survived became masters of reading the wind, trying to stay just a few steps ahead of the storms. Among them was an elven woman named Sabiya Kiwid, who seemed to be able to guide her clan to safety with great reliability. She was known as Sabiya the Wind-Wise, but her true nature was never revealed, even to her. The truth is, she was not only able to understand the winds but also command them, and every minor emotions acted as a butterfly effect that set the world into catastrophic disequilibrium. In fact, the Age of Calamity came to a close when Sabiya finally passed away, allowing the ecosystem to no longer be subject to her whims.

The world had irrevocably changed. There were no great civilizations any more, just groups of nomads digging through the wreckage and hoping to survive. Even the harshest of jungles and the sturdiest of mountains had been ground into compost by centuries of unrelenting rain. The land was flat, barren, and flooded. People were drawn to the deep waters, where fish still spawned and could provide food. And there, they found deep wells of wrecked structures and ruins, waiting to be plundered for any magic or metal that had been left behind from the previous age. These pockets of dead civilizations were the only thing giving society hope, with the uncertain promise that the skeletons of the old world could form the foundation for a new one.

Nalzar Vruan
Spell: Demiplane (PHB pg. 231)
Many people dismissed the diviners and their portents when they claimed the world was about to come to an end. But when the giant meteor began to fill the sky, the people of Vennris began panicking. Day after day, it got larger, and the world lamented its fate with screams and sobs. When the rock was the only thing in sight where the stars normally lay, the world was enveloped in a cold darkness. People thought the world was lost to the rock, but no one had died. There was much confusion amongst the Vennrisians, but nothing had been destroyed.

After a few more days, people realized they had been saved from the meteor - but doomed to a worse fate. There was no more sun, no more stars, maybe even no more moon. Just darkness and cold. In the passing years, millions of people were lost to the lack of warmth from the sun. Crops died, and the survivors were forced underground, battling for their lives in the Underdark. The Upworlders began to colonize closer to the core, which provided warmth, and utilized magic to grow plants and keep some animals for sustenance. It was a difficult life, but the planet hadn’t been destroyed.

The cause of the new atmosphere was accidentally due to Nalzar Vruan, a young drow who had a soft spot for the surface. He had been exploring nearby waterfalls and surface caves, and wished that this beautiful world would not be destroyed. The darkness was sudden and overwhelming to him, and he believed that Lolth had chosen to punish him because of his selfish wish. Now, even though he is still alive, no one can live on the beautiful surface of this wonderful place, all because of him and his selfish desires.

Nerissa
Spell: Dominate Monster (PHB pg. 235)
Nerissa, born on a ship with limited food, was abandoned to the Ezeth Ocean as a baby, but did not drown. She was rescued by a young Kraken, who reached out to her and introduced himself telepathically as C’thurix. The two became fast friends, and C’thurix helped Nerissa find food, air, and drinkable water. C’thurix was so astonished that a human would abandon their child so freely that he tracked down the boat Nerissa was from and broke it into pieces, eating all of the people on board, which pleased Nerissa.

As she grew up, Nerissa and C’thurix traveled the world, meeting other Krakens in other seas. She was acknowledged by more and more kraken, and gained their trust, gathering an army of the terrible beasts. By the time she was a teenager, she was organizing kraken attacks throughout the Nine Green Seas of Stratalig├╝s. She had memorized every port city and the major ship traffic coming in and out of the areas, and directed her kraken friends to feast on the juiciest passenger-filled ships. Word spread among the titans of the sea, and soon all kraken were guided by her for all things, and she revelled helping her friends take revenge on the land dwellers that abandoned her.

Kraken attacks all across the nine seas became more and more rampant, and people started to fear for their lives, and suggest some other form of travel might be a better solution to sacrificing their lives to the depths of the green seas. Magical vehicles that could skim just above the surface of the water were tested over the ocean, and never seen or heard from again. The Ezeth Ocean is extremely perilous, and the many trade routes and passenger ships that were established in the area are now destroyed, leaving many without food and commerce.

The face when you can't contain the power inside you
Cullodina Moss
Spell: Earthquake (PHB pg. 236)
The world of Daylenia constantly feels like it is about to fall apart. Houses, both sturdy and fragile, fall to the constant tremors that occur almost every moment. Animals initially panicked, but since this has been happening for over 20 years, they have been adjusting slowly to not panic from the tremors. People have also begun to adapt, building flexible houses and buildings that are not swayed by the constant tremors. Life has carried forward.

These tremors do not startle Cullodina Moss. She has lived with them all her life, and has noticed she feels more nervous whenever the stronger earth-shakes happen. Once, she saw a boy she thought was cute, causing her heart to pound, then the earth shook violently, the boy was almost killed by falling rocks. That was when she realized the earth shook with her. With every beat of her heart, the earth murmurs along.

Since her painful discovery, Cullodina has tried to live as calm a life as possible. She has traveled to a few different monasteries to try and learn to control her heartbeat, and practice mindful meditation to prevent anyone else from harm from this dangerous and deadly gift the gods bestowed upon her. She doesn’t dare try to end her life, as the resulting fright might tear the world apart.

Synar Leith
Spell: Feeblemind (PHB pg. 237)
Legend has it the river Styx has overflowed its banks a few times, when the number of dead souls from the material plane is higher than usual. This was only a superstition, until after the War of Seven Ways, where millions were been slain in battle, and even more died from lack of adequate provisions due to the blockade created by the Jistras and the Dibes. After the massacre at the Lupux Falls, some if the villagers in the surrounding area began to act in a most unbecoming way. They wandered around in a daze, unable to talk or do anything but seek food. More and more succumbed to this curse of stupidity, and the locals blamed the war for raising the River Styx up to the material plane.

Soon, this curse spread to the army of Lycrea, allowing them to be decimated entirely by the Jistrasi Army. The Jistras soldiers noted that the Lycrean warriors just wandered around flinging weapons at anything, moaning incoherently and unable to protect themselves or fight with spells. When the Jistrasi army started to contract this curse, General Innys tried in vain to prevent his soldiers from succumbing to it. Soon, the victors of the War of Seven Ways were ripe for conquering, their soldiers turned to dullards.

However, the root of this curse can be traced back to a single man. Synar Leith, a wandering hermit, brings those who would fight to their proverbial knees by cursing them with incredible amounts of stupidity. He believes that he is the River Styx personified, an emissary of the lord of Hades, sent to prolong the war and make it bloodier and deadlier than any before it. The river will rise, perhaps so much that it will overtake Olympus and grant his master victory against the Gods of Good.

Fayanna Tasse
Spell: Glibness (PHB pg. 245)
Fayanna Tasse never wanted to rule the world, but she does. She managed to get a chance to make a few suggestions on how to improve the monarchy, and surprisingly, King Credon listened. She jokingly mentioned that she could rule better than the king to his top adviser, Laila Abninger, and next thing she knew, Laila planned a coup that overthrew the King. Now, Fayanna has moved from lowly kitchen maid in the palace to Supreme Empress, all before the age of 15. Her decisions are law, and people listen to and believe every word she says.

She realized she was special at a young age, when she was joking with a childhood friend. “The sky, it’s so orange right now,” she said in jest. Eliott, her friend, rapidly agreed. Fayanna always thought Eliott had been joking with her right back, but the next incident proved that there was some strange magic at work. While walking through the market, she was feeling rather hungry, but didn’t have any money. Going up to a stall selling fruit, Fayanna told the merchant that the durian was free. “Of course! It’s free young lady,” and he handed her the fruit, no questions asked. Fayanna realized she had some strange ability beyond that of her peers.

As Supreme Empress, Fayanna travels the world to deliver speeches and try to make things better for people. She informed slavers that free people work harder and better, and they agreed. The slave trade came to a grinding halt. She informed the wealthiest merchants that they should invest their earnings into their employees, not their own flights of fancy. Suddenly, everyone was much wealthier, and the economy exploded. In this world, whatever Supreme Empress Fayanna says, goes. The people obey her without a second thought. And there haven’t been any problems… yet.

For crazy magic people, remember to make them look really weird
Cyram Malakai
Spell: Holy Aura (PHB pg. 251)
Once upon a time, the world was plagued by unending hordes of undead. The land was covered in darkness, and the people feared for their lives and afterlives, afraid to die and come back to harm their loved ones. On the darkest day, when the sun was blotted out by the moon, a walking angel appeared. With magnificent golden pale wings, the angel banished the undead into the ground for forever and a day, “but no longer,” he warned.

That “angel” was a mortal, but was still the child of a fallen angel, and he called himself Cyram Malakai. He soared over every land in the world, banishing swarms of ghouls and ghasts to rest in their graves, and rendering the world safe from these horrific creatures. Slowly, people returned to the light, and rebuilt their society. Cyram Malakai became a legendary hero, joining the pantheon of Gods worshiped in nearly every culture. The time of darkness was over, the undead menace was gone.

The legend of Cyram was carried on for over a millennia. That is, until one day, when an undead creature was found in a dark tomb deep below the surface of the world. The zombie was no threat, but the legends said the undead were gone for good. No church had practiced the art of fighting undead for centuries. Since then, more and more undead have begun appearing, and the menace seems to be returning. As the world is slowly enveloped by darkness once again, those who remember the legend of the angel pray for his return to bring the light back to the world.

Ryoko Kaliyah
Spell: Illusory Dragon (XGtE pg. 157)
Ryoko Kaliyah, The Dragon Queen, has ruled over the lands of Oria for nearly a hundred years. She gets both her name and her longevity from her half-dragon nature, causing her normally long elven lifespan to extend monumentally longer. She appears only in her middle ages, despite her century-long rule. However, the comparisons to dragonkind don’t just end at her lifespan and appearance. She rules like a draconic tyrant, and has an ancient black dragon named Qiangxin constantly by her side to defend her.

Her greatest victory was conquering the dragons themselves. 700 years ago, when she was a mere Warlord, she and Qiangxin began a campaign of slaughter to wipe out dragons from the world of Eosura. Beginning in the lands of Oria, she systematically found and killed every dragon she could get her blade into. Dragons had long plagued the nations of man, and Ryoko was hailed as the hero who had tamed the mighty beast Qiangxin and turned him against the scaled tyrants. It took centuries, but finally Ryoko completed her quest, and returned to Oria to receive ceremonies of the highest honors from King Yorge.

But when she arrived, Ryoko and Qiangxin destroyed the castle of King Yorge and took over the country. With no dragons left to oppose her, and the only one left by her side, she faced little opposition to taking the throne. Many commoners even supported her conquest, believing a hero who had rid them of the dragons would be fair and just compared to a scheming political king. But for the hundred years that followed, the people quickly learned that Ryoko was merely planning to run the country of Oria into the ground to meet her further ambition: conquering the entire world.

Keme Chanan
Spell: Incendiary Cloud (PHB pg. 253)
Some dark wizards have been known to belch forth clouds of flies or gouts of flame when confronted with a foe. Keme Chanan, however, is far more dangerous and powerful than such trifling summoners. His eyes burn with a deep fire, smoke curls around his lips, and his skin shifts like living magma. Some wizards and sorcerers becomes quite invested in their magic, but Keme has become consumed by it. Those who face him in battle risk the loss of their entire country, not just their lives.

It happened once before, in fact. When Keme was undergoing training to control his magic, he unleashed a mountain of fire and smoke so great that the sky was darkened over the city of Obune where he lived. The spell he cast rung out with a terrible thunder, rupturing the ear drums of all those within 5 miles of the city. The air became thick with smog and choking embers, descending on the city with terrible speed. Those who had heard the sound stumbled from their homes, only to be immolated in a hail of fire. Animals died, crops were blighted, and the city was left in ruins. Only Keme survived, but for the next several years the color of the sky itself was tainted by the chemicals in the air, an effect seen across the globe.

Keme stumbled from the burning wreckage of the city, bringing his burning cloud of ash with him across the country he once called home. He sought some meaning to his suffering, some way to understand the gravity of the loss he had just experienced, but the thought of losing everything drove him mad. Now, the world is simply an empty answer to the question he cannot comprehend, ready to fall at his will. The magic has completely consumed his body and mind, and the lords of the known world are quickly convening to put a stop to this disaster.

Again, please check out Stu Harrington!
Bron Dolan
Spell: Maddening Darkness (XGtE pg. 160)
It was a day like any other when the darkness came. The air turned black as pitch, and the world suddenly turned blind. Even those who could see in darkness were robbed of their sight. Civilizations crumbled, people screamed out into the dark for those they knew. They clung to food and weapons, unsure how long either would last. And even worse were the whispers. Everyone could hear them, but nobody could tell where they were coming from. People began going mad trying to find the source of the voices, or from losing their sight. The world of Plasuin became blank and hollow.

During this time, two groups rose to prominence. The first were the monsters who could sense vibrations or heat from the air. No longer kept at bay by the sun, the surface was flooded with Grimlocks, Umber Hulks, and Oozes. Those who had managed to cling to power or establish refugee groups all eventually fell beneath the assault of the monsters. The surface became a deadly place, and even cities were torn asunder by blind, burrowing monsters that no longer had any reason to shy away from the flesh of humanity.

The other group was the Xigh Cabal of Warlocks, who had trained their minds and vision for such events as this. They were the ones who discovered Bron Dolan, the child whose birth coincided with the maddening darkness. Nearly a decade after the air went black, they abducted and sacrificed the young boy to bring the sun back. And, to the relief of all of the world, it worked. The monsters retreated back into the earth, and the time of darkness was over. But countless civilizations had fallen, refugees were sparse and starving, or driven completely mad. The Cabal has the opportunity to become a political powerhouse like Plasuin has never seen, and they have their work cut out for them.

That's all for now! Next time, we'll finish up the 8th-level spells and get into the 9th-level spells. Oh boy!

Thanks for reading!

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