Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Innate Magic People Part 13

Our last artist is David Keen. His style mixes the magical and the mundane, extremely well
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 thirteenth and final article in this series, and covers the final ninth 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. Obviously, some of these folks aren't going to be found on Ahneria anymore.

Nestariel of Merilwen
Spell: Power Word Heal (PHB pg. 266)
One day, everyone in the world of Nephoria stopped dying. Wounds healed, poisons were neutralized, even those who had withered and grown old felt their strength return to them. Attempts at harvesting crops or slaughtering livestock failed to kill the plants and animals, but people suddenly felt no need to eat. Or sleep. Or drink. Overnight, the world changed immensely. Though hesitant at first, after a full year had passed, ranchers released their herds, war had become all but pointless, and the population exploded. With nobody dying, there were suddenly a lot more people. But since nobody needed to be fed or cared for anymore, the land could suddenly house many more people.

Deep in the Daeralda forests, an elven child named Nestariel of Merilwen had been born with incredible power. Their simple presence in the world had eased all suffering, stopped death, eased hunger and exhaustion, and restored the vitality of the elderly. The elven clan of Merilwen hid the child, unsure what would happen if the world learned of their existence. Though many people were satisfied to never die, many rulers were losing control of their subjects. Without the fear of death or starvation to keep the lower classes subservient, they were hoping to find someone to blame for their misfortune. The wise clan of Merilwen decided to raise the child ignorant to their own powers, fated to try to fit into this strange new world like everyone else.

For 750 years, nobody died. Eventually, humanoids had filled every corner of the world. Stone or ice buildings became the only viable option, and plants grew tall and strong between and within the structures. Animals and humanoids lived in harmony, with no need to eat to survive. Most people stopped aging in their first century, and after that retained an healthy elderly glow. There was much wisdom and art, little quarreling, and powerful concordance among all beings. The only one who seemed to be getting older and older was Nestariel of Merilwen. Their body hurt, their eyesight faded. They became frail and sluggish, and finally, they died. And suddenly, everyone in the world became extremely hungry for the first time in centuries.

Shīyu Mot
Spell: Power Word Kill (PHB pg. 266)
Shīyu Mot wanders the world, looking for comfort and fearing his past. He passes as a mute person, taking small kindnesses from those who give him shelter or sustenance. His eyes are deep wells of sorrow, and he never stays in one place too long. For eventually, as they always do, someone finds him. Sometimes they seek to kill him, sometimes they demand he come back to Gliros and lead their people. To either request, he flees, but if they pursue he leads them to a place far from civilization. Then, with a single word, he kills them.

Shīyu began life as a slave. From a young age, he was in chains, forced to work back-breaking labor and serve the wealthy of the country of Gliros. It was not long before the pain and fear of his daily torture made his powers manifest. Always a quiet child, he was surprised when the taskmaster who made him yelp in pain suddenly dropped dead. When questioned what he had done, his meager excuse made the guard captain die on the spot. Unsure of his own powers and actions, Shīyu grabbed the keys and ran, shouting anyone who stood in his way to death.

The king of Gliros, a cruel man known as Kgosi Yijun, immediately put out a bounty on the child. Shīyu became known as the harbinger of death, and murdered every soldier and bounty hunter that tried to eliminate him. Eventually, frustrated by the constant attempts on his life, he slaughtered his way into the royal castle and slew every person there. The commoners, free of Yijun’s oppressive reign, declared Shīyu their leader and took up arms in his name. He became known as the Reaper, but by the time the country had fallen, Shīyu had vanished. Now, those who seek him out wish to get revenge for old blood, or hope that he might return and become the leader of the greatest military force in history.

Ain't no grave can hold me now
Vaiva Dalton
Spell: Prismatic Wall (PHB pg. 267)
As Vaiva Dalton died at the hands of the assassins of Lanari, she swore that the Gethins, the royal family of Lanari, would be visited by seven plagues, the likes of which had never been seen upon the world of Sastroa. What Vaiva did not say, or perhaps she too was unaware, was that the plagues would not only visit the country of Lanari but the entire world. The consequences that followed were far beyond anything the Gethins could have imagined, or indeed the entire world expected.

The world began to suffer terrible heat waves, destroying crops and livestock and causing sea levels to rise. The heat became worse and worse, until the League of Ailill Wizards summoned forth a powerful blizzard to cool the planet. But the snow of the blizzard quickly turned into rain that was infused with acid. Buildings of stone and steel, spared by the heat, began to rust and melt away. Citizens began hiding in caverns, the wealthy built magical bunkers to protect themselves. The Druids of Mazinri Forest banded together and began purifying the rain, turning the terrible acid into normal water. But the skies were not done yet. The natural storm suddenly began spraying down lightning, killing anyone who hadn’t taken shelter from the acid rain. Food became scarce, and few people were able to survive.Finally, a faction of wizards known as the Brotherhood of Ammon finished their plan to erect a barrier around the surface of the world, blocking out the devastating storms once and for all. People began to emerge, and rebuild their lives. And for a few years, people believed the worst was over, despite the fact that only three plagues had occurred.

But soon those with weak constitutions began to die prematurely, and people realized that the air within the barrier had become poisonous. Clerics of the Holy Order of Naomne finally broke the barrier, releasing the poison outward. But the massive air pressure that had been building up in the bubble suddenly caused the world to plunge into winter, forcing the Sorcerers of Cináed to enact a ritual that brought warmth back to the world. The entire planet was now wracked with storms, and the sun barely shone through the clouds. This made things all the worse when the entire planet’s population turned to stone, only undone when sunlight touched them. It was centuries before enough druids had become un-petrified that they could calm the skies and restore the population. However, shortly after the world expected to return to normal, the final plague struck. Half of the world vanished in an instant, the other half went completely blind. With no way of dispelling this magic, the world has been locked in this dark, hellish state since then. Each day, hope dies a bit more, and the name of Vaiva Dalton is spoken on hushed lips and fearful tongues.

Manas Kamon
Spell: Psychic Scream (XGtE pg. 163)
Long ago, there was a terrible apocalypse that visited upon the world of Shigur Fos. Manas Kamon, a metallurgist with a booming laugh and a kind heart, had been arrested by King Adil the Just. King Adil had decreed that anyone who helped the barbaric Bandit Lord Waltraud should be put to death, after the widespread genocide caused by Waltraud’s bandit hordes. It was discovered that Manas had been supplying weapons to the bandits, though he had simply thought he was providing swords and armor for knights and hunters. The bandits had tricked him, and now, by King Adil’s decree, he was to be put to death. He pleaded for his life, claiming his family would die without his labor, but the knights of King Adil responded by slaying his wife Masuma before his eyes. Manas let out a terrible scream, so loud and long that it could be heard across the entire world.

Those who heard this scream felt it pierce their minds for only a brief instant before they died. Even Manas, who was unaware of his own power, was slain by this mighty wail. Entire cities dropped dead, ships suddenly began to steer along currents without their crews, and even Lord Waltraud was stricken down by its mighty power. There was no escaping the scream, except for those rare few creatures who had already shielded their minds from such assault, and those to simple-minded to comprehend the overwhelming pain it contained. The world became a dark and silent place, save for the growls and barks of the animals that had been spared a sudden and terrible death.

However, some people managed to survive. The Warlocks of Jespa, long practiced in speaking to eldritch horrors, were untouched. Sphinxes summoned from other planes of existence resurrected their masters, if only to honor contracts they had made to guard their possessions. The few liches existing on Shigur Fos began to bring people back to life, if only to ensure their phylacteries were filled with souls. Civilization was now in ruins, and a new world of natural dangers and unclaimed riches had begun.

I want to be a Queen of the Animals
Themisa
Spell: Shapechange (PHB pg. 274)
In times long past, the known world was threatened by Oswald, a barbaric warlord who promised to conquer every civilization known to man. His warriors were strong, and well-fed on both meat and the gory tales of victory for the Gods of the tribe. They believed by eating animals, they gained their strength, and fought harder and longer against their foes. The warriors of Oswald were indeed a force to be reckoned with, and swept over any inhabited land they could find. However, that all changed one day.

The Warlord was taking his personal bathing time away from his servants and concubines, when a rabbit snuck into view. Oswald, swift with both axe and bow, nocked and arrow and fired at the beast, hoping to claim an evening snack for himself. To his surprise, however, the animal transformed into a beautiful woman. He was transfixed, and called out to her, but she turned into a mole and fled underground before he could react. From that day on, the barbarian was changed. He forbade the eating of meat, in fear that one of his hunters might see his love before he did and steal her away from him. The warriors, confused by this new change in their deeply-held traditions, revolted and the army was weakened from the inside. This allowed the Oscal Empire to finally make their move, and struck back with their full force.

Once the dust had settled, General Fulton of the Oscal Empire was visited by a mysterious hawk. The beast transformed into a beautiful woman, thanked him for his actions, then turned back and flew away. The General was shocked, even more so when he learned the truth about the revolt within the barbarian ranks. He brought this tale back to Empress Min-Ji, and the legend of the Goddess of Animals was born. Since then, even to this day, it is considered wise practice to not kill more animals than absolutely necessary, and to whisper a prayer of forgiveness to Themisa when you do so.

Amihan Tondra
Spell: Storm of Vengeance (PHB pg. 279)
When Amihan Tondra was born, terrible storms were already brewing. His parents, Varsha and Barak, were fortunate enough to live in a sturdy home, but there was no stopping the torrents of hail, rain, lightning, and wind that assaulted their town. The child seemed to draw the storms to himself, and before long they moved out of Snorus town and to the larger city of Oblia. But the storms continued, only now with more casualties. And the storms hadn’t even left Snorus town, only slowly expanded until both settlements were within its radius. The more the family moved, the larger the storm became, until it covered nearly a quarter of the world.

Of course, such a storm upset the natural balance of weather quite a bit. Around the world, people were dying in droves, forced into buildings or caverns, depending on their wealth. But even the sturdiest of structures couldn’t stop the massive hailstones and acid rain that pummeled them from the skies. The weather pounded at the very foundations of civilizations, destroying the walls and buildings that kept them safe from the monsters of the wilderness. Before long, most of the civilized races had descended into the dark caverns beneath the surface, praying to their Gods that the weather would soon cease.

Fortunately for the world, Amihan, Varsha, and Barak were eventually slain by the very weather they kept attempting to escape. The storms took years to settle, however, and the skies were still turbulent for some time. Finally, after about a decade of hiding, the peals of thunder ceased, the skies brightened, and humanoids of all kinds began to risk emerging from beneath the ground. Some chose to stay, unwilling to trust the skies ever again. But those who found purchase in this new, washed-clean land tried their best to restore some of the civilization they had lost. The monsters still roamed the land, of course, and the task ahead of them is great. But slowly, they are recovering.

Ito Miku
Spell: Time Stop (PHB pg. 283)
When Ito Miku turned 18, she vanished into thin air. Her family and friends were distraught, and began to search for her. However, they didn’t get far before they heard the news. Every evil lord, every domineering queen, every single slave-owner, and every orcish and goblin warlord had been assassinated, all at once, at the same moment Miku had disappeared. Some were stabbed through by hundreds of blades that were formerly held by the very guards protecting them. Some were suddenly teleported into lava, monster dens, or deadly traps. Miku’s family was confused and distraught, but decided to keep their suspicions secret when they found a huge pile of gold coins in their basement.

At the zenith of her coming-of-age, Miku discovered that time around her had stopped. She tried in vain to get her family to listen to her cries, to make anything move again, to hear another human voice. It was all in vain. She went on a tantrum, knocking over market stalls and kicking time-frozen buckets. However, she soon realized that there was nothing she could do to change her fate, and carefully, sorrowfully, replaced everything she had disturbed. She sent several years wandering, safe in her frozen time from monsters and natural dangers. She explored the known world, then traveled beyond that to places too dangerous to visit for most.

As she entered her later years, Miku realized that her life, despite her explorations, had little meaning. She hadn’t loved. She couldn’t lose anything or face challenges. She revisited her old village, and sadly reflected on her life. That’s when she realized there was one last thing she could do. She went around the nearby countries, slaying any tyrants and slavers she could find. With little real-world experience, she didn’t realize that the political turmoil she might cause would be worse than the rule of a tyrannical lord, but that didn’t stop her righteous crusade. She also stole a small amount of gold from each one, bringing it back to her family’s home as consolation for her tantrum and disappearance. Her final act was to visit the explorer-queen Isra vi Andoles, famous for mapping the known world. She anonymously left her journal, which detailed safe passages to dangerous parts of the world, at his feet. She then found a quiet place to die, which kicked off the most tumultuous and exciting era of exploration and revolution the world had ever seen.

Bucket is in the background of this shot
Bucket
Spell: True Polymorph (PHB pg. 283)
Bucket was crafted with little love or regard by a blacksmith named Gobán Blake in the city of Maglesh. Gobán was filling orders of buckets for the local meadery, and completely failed to notice that one particular metal container was slightly more magical than the rest. Bucket could not speak, hear, or even see. It simply knew it existed, and pondered this thought for some time. It had no way to understand the world around it, and little care for those who picked it up, filled it with mead or grain, and swung its handle. It could feel the weight of its contents, and the grinding of its handle on its sides as it swung, and over time these small discomforts provided both a sense of annoyance and loneliness to Bucket. Bucket wanted to find out who was swinging the handle! Who was filling and emptying it! And perhaps, then, it could be a bit less alone.

Bucket waited patiently for someone to pick it up and fill it. At the moment its handle lifted, it reached out to the thing holding the handle, trying desperately to communicate. And for a moment, Bucket was successful. It could feel the life within the creature holding it, A living breathing thing that it could be with. And at that moment, the thing holding Bucket turned into a bucket themselves, and Bucket took on the form of the thing. Bucket was suddenly filled with strange thoughts it had never had before, images that it couldn’t stop thinking, sounds it couldn’t stop hearing, and strange limbs that weren’t handle-like at all. Bucket was so confused, it didn’t realize this body required air to breathe, and the townsfolk later found a pile of clothing next to two unusually similar buckets. They assumed the boy who was carrying Bucket had gone off somewhere naked, but he was never seen or heard from again.

Meanwhile, Bucket began to realize what had happened. It had turned into another life-form, one with many more senses (and bodily needs) than itself. It waited patiently until another creature touched it, and tried again. This time, Bucket’s body was slightly different, but it quickly figured out how to breathe before the body died. Bucket began running around, touching things to change them into buckets. Each of these buckets were just as sentient as the original, and soon Bucket and its allies were stealing bodies and turning all sorts of things into Buckets. A plague of buckets swept across the land, forcing several armies to try and stop these strange bucket warriors. They seemed only to wish to make more buckets. The world fought back, but after a few decades the entire world had been transformed into buckets, a planet covered in nothing but dirt and buckets. And now they are all that is left, and each Bucket wallows in its dark, silent misery, waiting for someone to come along and pick them up.

Zdravko Tasios
Spell: True Resurrection (PHB pg. 284)
The world of Hozira had experienced a tumultuous few centuries. The elven wizards of Zeelin had tried to divide the planet (literally), the warlords of Savas had risen up and nearly conquered all of Zeelin, and the lich lord Yudogo had slain hundreds before she was stopped. Such times produced great heroes, many strong and noble warriors, and kind-hearted wizards who stopped these evildoers at every turn. Time after time, the forces of evil were held at bay, and the successful heroes lived happily ever after, dying at ripe old ages.

However, in a small unimportant town called Ulun, a young boy named Zdravko Tasios was born. In his youth, he was visited by a seer, who told him he would shape the fate of the entire world of Hozira. Zdravko laughed, since he was nothing but a simple farmhand, and planned to take over his father’s farm when he came of age. And sure enough, his life was simple, full of love and labor, and when his time came, he passed on to the next life. He died believing that the seer must have been wrong, but satisfied that he had provided a fine life for his wife, children, and grandchildren.

But the moment Zdravko died, his innate magic ability activated. Suddenly, every single person on Hozira who hadn’t died of old age in the past 200 years was brought back to life, hale and healthy. The wizards of Zeelin, the warlords of Savas, the lich lord Yudogo, and many more. The world was swept with terror as the villains from legend and story came to life, with nary a hero in sight to stop them. Those few heroes that had died tragic deaths were returned as well, but were so scattered that without their allies, they fell once again to those who had bested them before. The world suddenly had to handle an assault the likes of which they had never seen before. If they will survive is for time to tell.

Zilya Dabria
Spell: Weird (PHB pg. 288)
Zilya Dabria was a famous bounty hunter known as the Lady of Nightmares. She could cause someone’s worst fear to manifest into reality, terrifying her victims, sometimes even to death. She lived her life surrounded by other people’s nightmares, and they obeyed her every command. Her strength grew day by day, and before long she could summon the worst fears of any creature within hundreds of yards. She realized she could demand whatever she wanted, and before long became the de facto ruler of Pagrax city, where she lived.

However, the nightmares began to take on a life of their own. The newly-branded “City of Bad Dreams” was no longer ruled by one woman, but now a menagerie of terrifying aberrations crawling through its twisted streets. Even Zilya, once lauded for her mastery of these illusions, had vanished, perhaps in hiding from the terrors she had herself created. The streets were empty except for the sounds of flesh-rending claws stalking the night. Windows were boarded shut, houses abandoned, businesses empty. People fled, but the monsters kept following them, further and further away from the city.

Soon, the monsters had spread to everywhere in the world that people lived. Those who didn’t know about Zilya and the City of Bad Dreams tried to fight back, but they couldn’t bring their swords or bows to bear on the things that scared them most. The nightmares swarmed city after city, country after country, tearing people apart with their hands of those they loved and feared most. Now, only a few people remain, hiding against the ever-stalking nightmares. Their goal is to find Zilya and kill her, ending the incessant terror the world has succumbed to.

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AO
Spell: Wish (PHB pg. 288)
Mr. and Mrs. Owen, from Pataskala, Ohio, were expecting a child, a boy. They had selected the name Andrew, after Mr. Owen’s favorite baseball player from his youth. Mrs. Owen had heard many horror stories about pregnancy and the strange behaviors and cravings it brought about in the human body, but her term had been incredibly easy so far. The child was quiet, and seemed to be growing quite healthily. Eventually, the time came to birth the child, and the happy couple were whisked off to the nearby Mount Carmel hospital. The doctors predicted a smooth and easy delivery, and Mrs. Owen went into labor. Andrew Owen was born a healthy baby boy, whose first desire was for the strange, bright new world he had been thrust into to stop existing. And so it did.

Andrew Owen drifted in nothingness. He was not hungry, for his belly filled with food when he desired it. He was not cold, for his skin was warmed at a thought. Images and sounds flashed through his mind. Who were the men in bright white robes, with green and blue skin, ringed in burning light? Who was the voice who had spoken to him, comforted him, while he was in the womb? Why were they gone? Why did he exist? Andrew grew, like all humans do, and he pondered these thoughts and more. As he did, images of them flashed before his eyes, and he realized that he could control these images. They had mass, and warmth. They were his thoughts, made real. He began experimenting, creating creatures like himself, like the strange men, like the comforting voice.

He watched as the creatures he made became independent. He made a strong male voice, warm and reassuring, that represented light. He made a wispy elderly voice, cold and hollow, to control the darkness. These two fought endlessly, and Andrew was pleased. He decided to give them the power to create as well, and they began to build a multiverse. There were people in white robes ringed in light, which Andrew called angels. There were comforting voices, called Gods. And there were people who looked just like Andrew. There were people who looked a bit different than Andrew. They laughed, grew, lived, and died. Gods made them, or sometimes Andrew lent a hand. They filled Andrew’s creation, and he watched them with utter and total fascination.

Andrew decided to call himself AO, though he barely knew why. Once he had reached an old age, he wished to stop aging, and he did. He wished for somewhere high up, a mountain, where he could view all of his creation. And here he sits, watching his grand experiments, creating new multiverses at will, attempting different combinations of gods and sciences, trying out new forms of matter and magic, and forever consumed by his simple curiosity. For all his power, he cannot see the future, and his experiments may never cease as he tinkers endlessly with the multiverses. He is AO, creator of all. He sits on his mountain, unsure of what he is searching for but endlessly searching nonetheless. And so it shall be, for all eternity.

And that's it! That's every spell! Yeah!

I'm thinking about putting these NPCs into a huge PDF for posterity's sake. It's much easier to search through a PDF than it is to scour through articles.

Thanks for reading!

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