Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spells of the First Glyph-Stone (Nadume/Zalchis)

Not just any opal, this precious stone pulses and flashes with the rhythms of a soul that resides within. It is, if anything, an animate object. A living thing. In its own way.

The Glyph-Stone is very much aware of its surroundings and awake, even intelligent. Often more so than those who would covet or carry the thing.

Psyche: 8, INT: 12, Willpower: 22, Morale: 10
AL N, AC 3, HD 4 (Withstands 36 points of damage before exploding in a 4d8 fireball).
Communication: ESP (30' radius) and Telepathy (touch).
Languages: Aklo, Ashadanix (Hag-Speech), Vorut, 1d4 random additional languages.
Detection Powers: Clairvoyance, Detect Magic, Read Languages, See Invisible.
Spell-Like Powers: Banishing Glyph: Disperse Saiitii InfluenceOneiric BubbleProtection from Aethyrial Intrusion, Safeguard Against Outermost Forces, Thought Wall, and Zone of Normality.
Other Powers: Carrying the Gem will slow one's aging process by a 12-to-1 ratio, in other words every twelve years they only grow older by one year. Unless they lose the Gem, in which case they must make a Save for every deferred year of aging, each failure aging them one full year instantly.

The Gem will gladly bargain with anyone who carries it longer than an hour.

A Dubious Offer
For one year of the bearer's life, the Gem will teach them any of its Detection Powers as a spell, or it will teach them one of its Spell-like Powers for two years of their life. If the bearer knows Nadume's Mark, the Gem will settle for 1d4 months in exchange for any one of the spells.

What the Gem does not mention is that the time exchanged is not simply drained-away, it is the amount of time that the Gem is allowed to take possession of the body of the person making the bargain.

A Better Deal
The First Glyph can be used pretty much as one would use a Holy Word spell. It can be unlocked by those willing to make an investment of 1d4 hit points for an additional 5% chance to 'unlock' the First Glyph. Success in this effort imprints the First Glyph onto the psyche of the investor, making it a spell castable as any other in their repertoire, but outside of the usual spell-slots. It can be cast once per day, even when all the spell-slots are used-up. However, the glyph consumes one language slot. If the character does not have an open language slot, they will lose one of the languages they already have learned in order to accommodate the first glyph. Those who unlock the First Glyph accrue a cumulative 1% chance per month to access another spell from the Gem for a similar investment of hit points as before. In this manner one can avoid the Gem taking possession of their body.

A Final Offer
The Glyph-Stone can, if the one holding it so desires, transfer one of their non-physical Attributes (INT or WIS) into itself for safe-keeping. Doing this grants the bearer a permanent +4 bonus on all Saves against Mental, Emotional or Oneiric attacks or effects. It also renders them effectively immortal. They no longer age and gain a form of regeneration; they regain 1d8 hit points of damage per level of spell they sacrifice to the Gem. Spells sacrificed in this manner are permanently lost, so the Gem will suggest that they use other people's grimoires, not their personal spell-books. Scrolls deliver double the usual amount. The Gem can also teach them how to drain magical items in order to convert those energies into replenished hit points. If asked correctly, the Gem can also reveal several methods for vampirically draining life energies from living victims. But in each instance, the gem will seek to bargain for more and greater concessions from its host.
Nadume is the only being to whom these Glyph-Stones owe any sort of loyalty. They serve Her as though She were a Queen in Her wasted realm. They come when She calls to them. They obey Her commands. They do not serve Her enemies.

Spells of the First Glyph-Stone | Spells of the Second Glyph-Stone
Spells of the Third Glyph-Stone

Intro to Zalchis | Zalchis Index | Zalchis Bestiary | Zalchis Grimoire

Player Resources: Zalchis | GM Resources: Zalchis


  1. If the First Glyph acts as a Holy Word, what are the creatures or alignment spared? Not Lawful Good, I expect. For that matter, what kind of alignment system would you use, if any? You world cycle is a bit on the grim side, I would be surprised if you used the standard two axis alignment.

    1. The Banishing Glyph only spares those who have pre-negotiated some sort of agreement with the Glyph-Stone. It behaves as a 'Holy Word,' but is neither particularly 'Holy,' nor exactly a 'word' in the conventional sense. It is Neutral, and will affect any and every other alignment, including other Neutrals, if they have not made a deal with it before-hand. That sort of thing is best handled by the GM/DM for themselves. I tend to just assign a base % chance and roll, if such a question arises.

      Everything we post is converted over to the legacy system of Law/Neutral/Chaos. We let Good/Evil derive from the actions and so forth, on a case-by-case basis. You are right. We have experimented with a couple different alignment schemes, most of them can be boiled back down to Law/Chaos, depending on how you define terms. Our in-house approach is a bit more malleable and evolves as the character develops. If there is interest in such stuff, maybe we'll post some of our experiments and thoughts on the matter.

      As for the grimness, that's not how we see it at all. We present/provide a context for heroes to arise, and for player characters to make meaningful changes; their decisions and actions can have a very real impact on things. We dislike static settings that stifle change. We also don't give anyone a free pass to wonderful--they either fight the good fight, or they aren't particularly 'good,' which is their choice. The Powers That Be always get presented as tough to beat--they have the advantage of being established and working for the status quo. It's a challenge. Consider the whole Luke Skywalker thing--if there wasn't an Evil Empite to fight, his story would have been fairly limited in scope, and a lot more boring, unless handled by someone like Leigh Brackett. The grimness and all that is the prevailing circumstances; player-characters are faced with the choice to either do something about it or not. But we have no interest in making the process easy, it must remain possible, but never easy. We never do nothin' nice and easy.

    2. I think I can just about imaging Tina Turner singing in a club someplace in Zalchis. One of those last chance little hollowed out rocks, swirling before the great abyss. Last Call.

    3. That would be a great adventure....

  2. I am intersested in such. I enjoy seeing how magic, alignment, and active powers change the game world and inform the player's choices. I'm getting disenchanted with alignment in general, but I think that it is still useful with higher level characters and creatures bound to cosmic level power sources.

    1. alignment tends to be used like a big stick or a hammer, to fix everything that doesn't necessarily need to be fixed. I used to swap it out for Allegiances, Alliances or Affiliations...and that can and has worked in some settings, but it still left something to be desired. I do like the use of Attunements to synchronize and access power sources, but I'm looking at that from a different perspective than most of the stuff I've seen written along those lines. that'll be a post or two, down the road.

      You make a great point; alignment is more of a consideration for the higher-level types, mostly because they have established themselves as being aligned to a particular Power, Cause, etc. Changing at that point is highly disruptive. However, at low levels, no one gives a rat's behind if they switch or change sides--it mostly only affects them and not hundreds/thousands/millions of other people.

      I like the idea of having an Alignment Score that can shift over time, have bonuses/penalties, and tie into the higher-end powers and stuff...but I haven't gotten it quite worked out the way I like just yet.

      Okay. I'll start working on a post about Alignment...
      Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Excellent! I look forward to you perspective, and additional posts on the glyphs / jewels of Nadume. They fit rather well in my campaign.

    3. Very cool. The other gems are coming soon. We'd love to hear how they work out for you!


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