Musician's Grave Module Playtest

My players shouldn’t read this

Greetings! It is a momentous day, friends! I’ve recently taken to compiling a dungeon I made for my home game into a module. While the module is tested, it isn’t that tested, so I’m designating it playtest material on drivethrurpg. The digital pdf is PWYW, and always will be. So please check it out!

LINK

This is the first in a series of connected modules, and financial support will go primarily towards making those new modules. In particular, a word processor other than Overleaf (probably Affinity) is the first goal. Any comments or questions should be directed to profane.ape.games@gmail.com.

Thanks a ton!

The Inhabitants of the Fifth Moon

“In my travels, I have spoken to many wise men, both in the universities, and in the wilds of the world. The practitioners of the scholarly or arcane arts are all in agreement on this matter, that the ring has no ‘moons,’ that is, a world that revolves around it. Other planets in the sky have as many as a hundred or are as bereft as the Ring. 

The shamans and many demiurges and even others that have walked among spirits claim that the Hidden Lands have four moons. And although that world is evidently not a ring, it undoubtedly is the ring in terms of place, though it means less there. And the moons on occasion appear in the skies of the Hidden Lands. Of course, the wizards and scholars consider such notions silly nonsense, but I have seen the Yellow Wanderer, and have it on good authority the Red Spectre and Pale Familiar are often visible to those that know where to look. Though few have ever seen the Sable Companion, I doubt not that it exists at well. After all, where would the fabled moonstones come from, else from them? The men of science have no convincing explanation for their existence or power.

Yet I must remark on the discourse and nature of the fifth moon. While most shamans agree that it exists, they all universally say that it has no presence of itself in the realm of spirits, though it can be reached that way. Instead, it only occasionally exists in the material realm, an inversion of the nature of the other moons. Most curiously, some scholars have recorded seeing this moon in the night sky over history, for as long as an hour at a time, though these are often disregarded in modernity. 

Stranger still, the fifth moon’s inhabitants enter the spirit world and material, for their forms are physical. In my travels, I have heard of these outsiders, and even met one, and describe them below. Universally, they seem to have strange powers to manipulate time, and are often parasitic or predatory.

The Nagas

The most well known of the inhabitants of the Green Itinerant are the fearsome nagas, These beings appear to have the bodies of snakes, with the heads of men or women attached. They, like most of the inhabitants of the Itinerant that find their way into our world, have strange powers over time. They also often study magic, either of the spirits or of the arcane, and do so with great facility, as their intelligence far exceeds that of most men. To them, these studies are lesser arts, just as wizards often study sciences and grammar.

They do not age, but often hibernate for hours, days, or years at a time. Shamans and villages often come to worship these beings, wherever they are found. They can eat many times their body weight with ease, invariably meat, giving rise to their tendency to eat people in times of desperation, but can just as easily go decades without eating.

In regards to their highest mystery, they are often secretive of it, just as wizards are of theirs, though they often mention it in passing, vaguely, and with a certain condescension, also quite like wizards. One naga I met in my travels finally agreed to divulge to me the nature of their study, recognizing me for a man of learning, and also in exchange for a handsome gift of food. It divulged to me that the naga have names as long as ‘their lives’ in its words, and to know it wholly is to know their fate in totality. This was the reason for their meditation, as they seek to achieve absolute knowledge of their future. As they learn more of their name, they gain greater power over the flow of time as well, being able to slow down, speed up, or even stop time at the highest reaches of proficiency.

All rank in what passes for naga society derives from their accomplishment in this pursuit, and groups of naga, where they can be found, almost instinctively defer to the naga most knowledgeable of their own name. Even in a chance meeting of two nagas along the road, my confidant told me, the greater naga will have near complete command over the lesser, though the compulsion breaks once the nagas separate. It told me for this reason most naga choose to remain solitary, as many resent this part of their nature. Even those rare few that do remain together well advise their better not to overstep their command, as a dissatisfied servant naga will often contrive escapes. 

The Chalogs

These strange creatures likewise have snake or slug-like bodies, but with far lesser length and no grace whatsoever. Their heads hold glowing, blind white eyes and rapacious grins of jagged, gapless teeth. Where nagas are stoic and measured in their pursuits, the chalogs are frantic, ceaseless, and grasping. 

The desperate may use them for servants. Time is the only cost of their service. By sacrificing one’s youth, one may empower and employ a Chalog. They grow stronger as they leech away time and hew strongly on those who donate them out of their earliest stages, serving with a form of loyalty, often transgressing orders for personal gain but always returning to their donors. They may also do this to unwilling targets, but the effect appears to be greatly lessened.

The chalog grows in size and ability as it sucks away youth. The more powerful forms grow limbs, and their appetites grow ever more rapacious. At the greatest extent of their power, they bury themselves deep in soil or stone, and weave themselves a sarcophagus of nigh indestructible fibers. These fibers can then be extracted through several painstaking processes, as time immediately in the vicinity of the torporific creature is slowed to a crawl, and have many desirable and exotic qualities, in addition to their mundane but exquisite strength. The abilities of these fibers vary from chalog to chalog, but the source appears to be effectively infinite. 

Cavari

A creature that resembles a caterpillar with four stubby legs instead, and is nigh as wide as it is long. The creature is often used by time-collectors and nagas, as their secretions can manipulate time, as most creatures do. Most beneficial is the fact that, for a single specimen, the effect of their time-feeding is nearly unnoticeable, but their byproducts retain a good deal of potency.

The only hitch in such operations is that the creatures are highly explosive under certain conditions, though what conditions those are a matter of some debate. Outlandish claims such as second sons, the color yellow, or cuckoldry of their owners are generally disregarded. It is well known that the creatures should be kept away from fire, but not necessarily heat or light. Some claim motion disturbs them as well, and many further elect to keep them away from mills, rivers, and wind of all sorts, although one shaman I knew claimed they saw one mewl happily through an earthquake. Lastly, most agree that the less people and animals nearby, the lower the chances of an unseemly detonation.

They are said to possess the intelligence of most children by their owners.

Vikaz

These strange worms possess a single, orblike eye, glowing at the end, usually identified as the head, though not treated in this way. A companion of mine once claimed that a vikaz was as likely to look at you with its eye as its ass. They possess some ability as oracles, but it is said they require the past of the petitioner to tell their future, usually manifesting as memory loss, but sometimes in the loss of possessions or scars. They often cohabit with naga, their abilities being useful to them. 

They do not speak, lacking the organs for such, but possess an intelligence equaling or exceeding most men. When they perish, their eyes continue to glow, and serve as powerful magical tools or reagents, particularly to diviners. It is said that in the eye intelligence of the vikaz persists.

Zira 

The toothy gullets of these creatures can suck away time. When the mouth opens, all in front will have their perception of time greatly slowed. However, they can also open their mouths to quickly age the things in front of them, though they rarely use this. They also have trouble orienting themselves, as they appear to possess no sensory organs – though they still find their “prey” with alarming alacrity – and they push themselves around on undersized flippers. 

The creatures are also, I am told, breathtakingly stupid. They appear to eat large boulders primarily, grinding them to pebbles with the flat teeth in their maw. They are also mostly resistant to damage- hurting them enough to warrant a return in aggression is a mighty feat indeed. Their bodies are mostly their mouths in truth, and they appear to lack viscera for the most part.

Some keep them around as (somewhat) mobile hearths and furnaces, as the interior of their mouth is naturally quite warm and apparently fairly comfortable. By means of feeding them certain cursed stones, they may be heated to the temperature of the most advanced forges of men.

Danta 

The serpentine danta has many hundreds of arms haphazardly along its small body, with two fingers each. The creature is passive, but has a most curious defense mechanism. It digs itself into a hole, and covers itself. When attacked by predators, it simply uses the time it has gathered to duplicate itself, repeatedly, till the aggressor is literally crushed between the bodies and the hole. This also serves as the creature’s method of reproduction.

Some enterprising time-collectors have attempted to use this creature’s secretions, as they seem somewhat effective in that matter, but the trouble of triggering the defense mechanism makes this a dangerous gambit. 

Tagkara

These creatures have the arms and legs of primates, though their body nonetheless still has a wormlike shape, and their eyeless head ends in a horrific mouth that opens four ways. The mouth is used to release horrific sonic attacks and defend their themselves. Wise men say this creature’s screams are enhanced by its manipulation of time, which in effect makes a chorus of its own voice, as it screams a thousand thousand times in each instant. 

Thankfully, they are quite pliable, trainable, and even a delight to children, if well fed. They vocalize somewhat loudly almost constantly, however, and most scholars find them an unconscionable distraction to their focus. 

Zayalu

This small, double ended snake creature uses its mouths to latch onto a larger creature, and leech time from them. Instead of slowly drawing away time, the zayalu instead takes time away in discrete moments, causing the parasitized to cease existing for a brief moments. Some thieves use this ability to phase through locks, doors, and other impedances, but the chances of having your limbs severed or being encased in stone deter all but the most mad from their use. 

Bhuj

This small leech creature is rather similar to their terrestrial cousin, but it sucks time instead of blood. As it does, the creature it parasitizes ages faster to an outsider’s view, and the leech grows in size, gradually enveloping more and more of the creature, till it is only a sickening sack of green-black flesh, roughly in the shape of the original creature, remains. The Bhuj adult then shuffles around, attacking living creatures till it catches and kills one, allowing it to implant its young, that later burst out and float through the air, seeking a new target. 

Bhamuk

These strange winged worms are considered pests and nuisances, and frequently accompany visitors and travellers to the fifth moon when they return. Their large mouths are used for sifting water, dust, ash, or anything that they deem to have a surfeit of time.

These creatures appear to be mostly useless, though one traveller I chanced upon claimed that the teeth of their cavernous maws, in addition to resembling whalebone, can serve a similar purpose. 

Aka Tree

The aka tree is an oddity, in that it is quite possibly misnamed. As a result of their peculiar life cycle, only seeds and sprouts are ever seen by men, thus suggesting that it may not be a tree at all.

A shaman I befriended in my travels carried a sapling in his knapsack. He explained to me that when the sapling reaches some point in maturity, it explosively grows into its adult form, pollinates itself, dies, and decays into soil, all faster than the eye can perceive. This has a tendency to kill anyone in the immediate vicinity, drastically age those in a large radius, and emphatically demolish anything overhead. He carried it with him for good luck.

Candra

Candra is a plant that resembles a form of bamboo. I one form or another, it covers most of the surface of the fifth moon in great forests. To an outsider looking down to the surface of the fifth moon from the ring, this is the cause of the alternating waves of black and green running over the surface. For the bamboo forests experience massive die offs, and stay dead for a time before resurrecting, but to an outside observer this occurs in mere seconds as opposed to months, years, decades, or centuries, as seen on the moon.

The varieties are too many enumerate, but they slow time around them to a crawl. Some bamboo have the ability to reverse time, and their resurrections are, in truth, just that. Some forests display a sort of intelligence, and actively retaliate against feeders and attackers. Some grow tall, some short, some cover continents, some a bare handful of yards. Once, a group of explorers united in common cause to travel to the moon and catalog all the varieties, their abilities, and their uses. They have not been heard of since, though whether this is owed to failure or the time dilation the expedition experiences, none can say.

Dessicated or fashioned pieces of the wood often find their way into the world around the necks or travellers or nagas. Purportedly, their abilities are preserved in this form, though there is some doubt of that.

Matya 

The bodies of these gluttonous snakes are so uniform when their eyes are closed that their fronts are often mistaken for their backs and vice versa, and their usual motionless habit leads many to believe they are inanimate altogether, even if their natural camouflage is seen through.

This is a deadly miscalculation, as they are one of the few predators to make the trip from the moon. As soon as unexpecting prey wanders into their midst, their mouth latches onto their tail, and they roll the bulk of their ring shaped bodies around with shocking alacrity. 

When it strikes its prey, it may repeat the instant until the creature is crushed to death. Thankfully, they are quite poor at striking with their charge, as their eyes are poor, but even beyond that, their imposing bulk and fearsome bites make them deadly enemies. 

Balaf (or bailiffs)

These deadly creatures are stand apart, literally, from their fellows on the fifth moon. Whereas most creatures are low to the ground, soft, and wormlike in body plan, these predators stand on tall, bony legs, connecting to a body so small one barely perceives it. They are made taller yet by their single bony arm that extends upwards from their body. The arm’s myriad joints and great length allow it to extend back to the ground, where it wreaks havoc on its prey.

This arm also serves as tongue and mouth. The end opens seamlessly into a cone-like beak, that can tear at flesh after the arm bludgeons the prey to death. The arm can swing with enough speed and force to reduce stone to dust, though this often greatly damages the arm itself. The balaf can simply regenerate these wounds by reversing time, and as a result attacks with a reckless, ferocious abandon.

Many variants of this creature exist across the fifth moon, but they are said to almost invariably deadly, whatever species they are. Some species can lash with their arms many times in a moment, other focus on a single strike a million times to magnify force. A few use acid and long probing tongues. Some species are also singular and rewinds time itself after death or as it ages. 

Thankfully, these creatures rarely make the journey here, perhaps because they are not parasitic in nature and prefer the prey of their homeworld.”

– Olbede

TN Note: This is one of Olbede’s more esoteric works, an oft forgotten segment of is Treatise of the Satellites. Sadly, most of the manuscript has been lost, including the rest of the glossary of beasts, which is presented here in as complete a form as could be managed. Some of the chapters for naga, chalogs, and the matya survive yet, though they are exceedingly rare, the rest, if he wrote any, are gone from this world.


Stat blocks later

The Rivers of Mysticism

Translator’s Notes: The Rivers of Mysticism represents one of the more complete works on the origins and means of the “innate” practitioners of magic, often termed adepts, but just as frequently confused for practitioners of the arcane arts by the ignorant and undereducated. Many wizards consider shamans, demiurges, and their ilk as weak dabblers in folk magics, and beneath academic study, but the successes of the Zhylyrs owes in part to their clerics. Even in our own country the shamsn yet predominate those areas far from the cities. And thus the nature of these “adepts” seems well worthy of consideration. 

The manuscript was written c. 2200 by the philosopher-king Ol-byadi Hadar inas-Gatam inas-Zair inas-Falim im-Sud, known colloquially as Olbede, or infuriatingly Imsod by some less rigorous scholars, leading to a great deal of confusion with his ancestors, the historical rulers of the distant city of Arsud, in those lands against the wind. Olbede was the fourth son of the king of Arsud, and thus considered unlikely to inherit the kingship, as it falls always there to the youngest son. He travelled to all the places in Fengdi, studying spirits and learning to bind them, as in the manner of the demiurges. He travelled as far as the Great White Coast and those lands near there, and went also into Ashotho. He crossed Barinthia and the Great Steppes, and even walked in Medai and Bod and further on to Shingo, and is said to have visited Arxact. 

When his travels were concluded, he returned to Arsud with the power he had gained from the spirits he bound to himself, and killed his all of his remaining brothers save one and also all the burghers and priests of Noddim to reclaim his throne, and thereby gained his throne and founded a votive cult much alike to those of Laersia and Zhetimia, lands he also visited. But his reign coincides with the great war of the Noddimites and the followers of one Saint Matiri and also a third belligerent party of cultists of a water god apparently from the lands of Zhetimia. Olbede’s part in this conflict is unknown, other than that he was overthrown and Arsud is now believed to be Matirid territory. 

Following below is a segment of the introductory section of the manuscript, detailing the nature of the “innate” spell casters: 

On the Nature of the Adepts

The arcane scholars of the great cities of marble [TN: Barinthia] universally deride those who come by their magic through other means as dilettantes and fools who were gifted their powers and thus have no discipline or skill in wielding it. A preposterous notion, reflecting their ignorance and misunderstanding. While many adepts are born with their powers, only years of study can hone them into true practitioners of the Arts. Further, the powers of the Hidden Lands lies within all of us, from the highest king to the lowliest wretch. My own journey along the path of demiurgy even at its outset has given me power I never imagined.

In my travels, I have encountered, interviewed, killed adepts of all persuasion and origin, and in my estimation their exists three general categories of adept. These are the Adepts of the Blood, Adepts of the Way, and Adepts of the Spirits, and their natures I will explain further below. 

Adepts of the Blood are those born with their power, as though their bodies are infused with the divine grace of their god. These types often come associated with some religion already, and are treated as saints, heroes, and often celebrities in whatever religion they were associated with. The frequency of births of these adepts varies from place to place and religion to religion, to a great degree. Their powers often lie dormant in them till they near adulthood, but the time of manifestation is highly variable. The Hime Savants [TN: of Shingo] are amongst the most destructively powerful of all people to walk the Great Ring, and their powers often manifest in the womb.  Meanwhile, a Smarvalkyr’s [TN: the Small Valkyrs of the Churches of Fate] powers can lie dormant within them their whole life, suggesting their numbers are even greater than those within the College. 

Adepts of the Way gain their power through study of religious doctrine and rite. Some of them claim to gain power from their god in exchange for devotion, but a few of these have no god and barely possess what could be called a unifying theology. Their works are often much akin to spells in the manner of the wizards, but yet more chaotic and less formulaic. The Noddimites of my homeland claim that Noddim itself gives them their powers of the mind, while the non-theistic examples of note are the disciples of the First and Second Schools [TN: the Sons of Yinong and the Theurges, respectively] and the Dark Druids. The religious masters recruit from a pool of volunteers and many search for initiates directly, basing their selection on criteria such as intelligence, obedience, and diligence. 

[TN: This passage appears to have been added at a later date, after his travels concluded.]

My dear friend and companion Nortidur suspects that most of the religious masters have some method of detecting a natural, inborn ability and that the Adepts of the Way and Adepts of the Blood are one and the same. Indeed, Adepts of the Blood likewise require a lifetime of study to hone and use their powers, and the difference I perceived is none other than the difference between those powers that are obvious and those that remain latent unless trained. My own experiments on the imported slaves have not been illuminating in this matter. 

Adepts of the Spirit have access to magic purely through their interaction with the Hidden Lands [TN:the Spirit World] or the beings that inhabit that world or this one. The shamans draw on the inherent magic of the lands to do their works, while the demiurges bind spirits to themselves and gain their powers. Any human can embark on these studies, as I bound my first spirit with only the aid of manuscripts, and many shamans also claim to have had no master other than the spirits themselves. 

On Adepts and Faith

As has been said, most Adepts of the Blood are born into a religion, with the exception of the dreaded Wytches. They are believed to be signifiers of the validity of the faith. Why else would people capable of extraordinary miracles related to our doctrines appear amongst the faithful, if the faith wasn’t correct? As such most of these adepts get absorbed into some church structure where they are trained, and often turned into weapons and tools of the church leaders.

Adepts of the Way can only access the rites that supposedly allow them to channel power through faith and membership in the faith, and so naturally they will be part of some religious tradition or the other. 

Adepts of the Spirit have no unifying religion or theology, beyond an acceptance of the Hidden Lands into their mind. The shamans do recognize each other as part of a common tradition with a shared history and descent from Samnus, the first shaman, but the demiurges make no such distinction, although there must have been a first spirit-binder. Shamans often work with powerful local spirits/mystical elements and perform religious services as a mediator between the locals and their “god” that they worship due to proximity. Most organized religions reject shamans as pagans, charlatans, and idolaters, but the common folk adore and require them as mediator between them. Often times, I would come to a shrine by the roadside, or not far from it, kept by a shaman and his followers. There they would meet their god, often a spirit or occasionally a Monk of the Dead. As they tend to servility by nature, the shamans are understandably less powerful than other sorts of adept.

[TN: A further manuscript called Godhead by the Roadside details the types of beings he found worshipped by villages and their resident shamans] 

My fellow demiurges often come to reckon themselves as beings of godly power, and a few demiurges through history may have even been right about it, attracting shamans and cities or nations of followers to their service. The most long-lasting of these God-like Demiurges even created religious orders based on the binding of spirits similar to their own to distribute amongst followers or pass down to later generations. These are called Votive Cults, after the statues that contain the spirits when not in use. Once, all the lands of my home and beyond supplicated to Votive Masters, though now the practice is much diminished. 

Of course, it must be mentioned that there are faiths with no adepts whatsoever, nor any need for them. The cities of Rephinicia worshipped giants and gave their children up as food and sacrifice, for no other reason then their size. And near there was a city that claimed descent from a giantess named Tanit, and worshipped her as their leader and marked themselves her descendants, and indeed they stood taller and stronger than most men, but were imparted no magic by blood. 

Demiurges also sometimes associate themselves with those religions that have no adepts born into them, as their access to magic allows them to rise quickly through the ranks, if they will have them. The cult of a love god in the lands of the 3rd League [TN: also Barinthia] were composed of demiurges and wizards at their highest levels.

On the Natural Talents of Adepts and the Failings of Church Mastery

Long in my travels and study of history have I and others before me noted a decline in the stability of church organizations as the number and power of Adepts of the Blood that are born into the religion. The more adepts that are born, the more churches tend to fracture as heresies and heterodoxy push up between the cracks. The Church of Fates claim that Smarvalkyr are sent to do their gods’s bidding in Creation, but the early Patriarch Noyzeimi II famously cried out that the gods could have sent less. He oversaw a time where sectarian conflict shattered the church. The success of these sectarian conflicts largely rode on the many Smarvalkyr schismatics could access and train; many were born in sect territories or aligned with sects for their own reasons.

This is because the notion that the adepts are born with some innate adherence to the strictures of their churches is simply false, in my own estimation and in the eyes of any true scholar of history. Their power is innate; their theology unconnected. This truth is denied by all churches, yet all but the greatest fools know it; the histories run too deep and red with the blood of conflict caused by the church’s mystics to deny the notion.

Furthermore, the common belief that adepts are heroes and the chosen of their god rather inflates their own sense of worth as theologians, and possibly their actual worth in that regard. The adepts have their powers from their god, it is so, and thus they feel their convictions are sacrosanct. Resolution of church conflict is made no simpler by the common practice of training adepts to use their abilities to maim and kill. And so if an Adept of the Blood wishes to practice heterodoxy, they have legitimacy and the capacity to resist suppression.

The necessary ending of all this is that most organized religions engage in measures to control their adepts and make sure they are always on the side of church leadership. In the case of Adepts of the Blood, this involves bringing a child that displays powers into the church structure as soon as possible, through separation, education, or some combination thereof. The Patriarchy now demands that all Smarvalkyr enter into the Wyrd Collegium, though this doesn’t always involve separation from their families, as otherwise a whole new rash of rebellions would crop up, in addition to the heterodoxies that they must compete with even with their other measures. The Hime Savants can only properly direct their powers by using their distinctive tattoos given to them by the priests of the Fire Giants. 

Another result is that Adepts of the Blood are oft discouraged and actively obstructed from achieving high rank within their church. One reason is the aforementioned training as weapons of the faith, this leaves them poorly equipped to handle matter of faith. Of course, the true cause is this matter of instability. Deprivation of church rank prevents the adept from accruing followers. All religions with Adepts of the Blood that I have yet encountered practice this seclusion in one way or another, codified or not. 

When learning of those religions with Adepts of the Blood, their management reminded powerfully of my father’s management of his stables of racing horses. Every morning, my father would take to the stables in our palace to inspect his stallions, mares, and ensure the dozens of servants that kept them kept them well. He would have each one brushed head to tail each day and after each ride, and they drank water from the cleanest well in Arsud. Each day he would take one to ride and hour in the evening. And when he went to war, he chose his best horse to carry him, and when it died beneath him, he would weep bitterly, and drink deeply to his victory, and carry home gold and captives and a hundred horses for his single dead one. Adepts of the Blood are respected, trained, used, and often even pampered or fawned over, but never trusted.

Adepts of the Way seem to have a lower frequency of sectarian conflict, and since the power comes from the religious teaching, at least in part, the prevailing orthodoxy is somewhat self-preserving, even in such cases as the Dark Druids with no central church. Those that do have churches have an easier time of controlling who accesses their teachings and associated magical powers. Except in that perhaps less initiates are taken in so as to control the number of adepts and thus the number of possible heretics, Adepts of the Way face lesser and less universal resistance to their rise in church ranks than the Adepts of the Blood. Some monastic faiths I came across in the lands near the Great Plateau of Bod [TN: possibly referring to the Disciples of the Crane-God and the disciples of the Monkey-God before the rise of the Zhylyr Empire] had their monastic heads picked from the most experienced of their adepts.

To-Hit X, and the Heights of Magic

Ah, shit. Well, I was going to write all those posts and changes I mentioned, and I did for a few, but then something came up, and then another thing came up, and now here we are a couple months later. Damn, really. Can’t be helped. Well, it could’ve been, but let’s not dwell on it.

Note: This has a lot of systems talk, and almost all of it is untested. Proceed at your own risk. 

Sometime over the summer, I was having a discussion with my brother, who mentioned an interesting idea involving, of all damnable things, descending AC. The system mentioned basically entailed rolling 20 or greater for a combat roll. If you rolled a 20, you probably hit, and the enemies AC was a positive modifier to your roll, in addition to all the modifiers you get. The main benefit of this system is that it becomes obvious when a hit has been scored; you level 5 fighter rolled a 17 to hit this shitty goblin, so the goblin is in trouble. It also imposes a “natural” limit on Armor class, with anything below 0 being explicitly magical in nature. It also gives me a pretty good way to guess at what the AC of regular armor should be, and it should be exponentially more difficult to reach lower numbers. I’m thinking full plate would be a 4 at a minimum, and we could go from there. Base human AC would be 14.

I like it. I think there’s a lot of potential here for a more approachable system. And I think this system should be applied to most of the d20 rolls in the game, if I want to apply it to combat. So I’m also going to switch saves to ascending- the players still want to hit 20, but now add their saves instead of trying to hit that number.

Spell casting rolls probably also need to change to accommodate this, but for a variety of mathematical reasons and reliability, I think a d10 (hit 10) would be a better fit. The new schema would look something like this:

>=15: Spell Casts, retain if a wizard.  

>=10: Spell Casts

>=5: Spell Fails (Wizard), or Spell Casts and lose 1 Strata (Adept)

>=0: Spell Fails, lose 1 Strata, roll 1d6+6 on Mishaps.

<0: Spell Fails, Roll Mishaps, lose Strata equal to spell level. 

The spell level is a penalty to the SC roll. Now adepts just add  their Strata or Strain to the roll, no penalty for the level of the spell. For sorcerers, their critical mishap chance is now just equal to their strain.

The only other d20 mechanic I left to change is the surprise and initiative roll. From now on, initiative is officially back on the 1d6 roll. When surprise is possible, the general rule is 6+ for unaware creatures and 4+ for aware creatures. Awareness talents now give you an extra d6.

I went ahead and already remade my rule set with all these changes included. It was surprisingly quick: LINK

Wizards

Actually, let’s talk about the wizards. In my last post where I mentioned them, I was considering moving them to 5e preparation, where you can cast a spell as long as you have an open spell slot with level equal to or greater than the level of the spell, and possibly expanding that to include casting with lower level slots at a penalty. Now I’m moving back towards prepared spells.

Why? The answer is distinction. I already have a class of spontaneous casters, and I don’t think they’re is much to be gained from another one. The Wizard should be somewhat inflexible by design (encouraging creativity in the players) but undoubtedly the most powerful caster at higher levels, and far more reliable to boot.

But then we run into another problem: no one wants to play them. We had two wizard characters the entire campaign, I think.

To start out, I’m no longer having wizards, or any character for that matter, roll their first level HP. You just get the maximum to start off. No more 1HP chumps. I’m also going to let wizards choose the two starting spells in their schools. Additionally, if they would gain a spell from leveling up, they can choose the spell if it’s in their school. Will this encourage metagaming? Yeah, but I don’t care that much. Most of my players aren’t metagamers anyway and I don’t think I want a system where optimization is completely invalid.

In general, I’m moving away from the whole “spell slot investment” aspect of panoply creation, with the exception of the foci and cabals. Wizards should use their spell slots, not trade them. The Novice/Journeyman/Adept/Expert/Master progression of the Raiment will now be standard across the talismans, foci, raiment, sanctums, and cabals of the panoply. In the case of sanctums, it’s just a measure of how much magical bullshit you’ve accumulated and even the lower level ones will be hugely powerful. The cabal’s rank is a measure of the average power of its members, which will hopefully keep them small and composed of wizards of similar level.

Talismans will now be specifically for preventing spell mishaps, and their effect will be fixed.

Servants and familiars are still being folded into one. The Cabal will be added as a panoply item, and will actually make the wizard weaker in exchange for a sudden rush of power when needed.

The wizard’s focus will be more geared towards altering how the spells are cast via Spell Harmonization. One type of harmonization will make casting incredibly safe and immediate, another will allow for a lot of casting, another will allow for even more casting but be dangerous, etc, etc. 

All of these changes and specific mechanical effects have already been put into a new Wizard class document: LINK

From now on, Wizard spells will have a fixed effect with no level scaling, in keeping with their internal definition as specific, unchanging formulae. This also makes lower level wizards more powerful and helps to curb the power of higher level wizards. I’ve also updated their spell list: LINK

Rituals

I also want to add rituals as a distinct entity from spells. Rituals in my mind are more permanent, more variable, and more flexible than spells, while still falling explicitly under the label of wizard shit.

I’m adding in a body of rituals that each subclass of wizard may undertake. Abjuration gets Negative Infusion, Transmutation gets Positive Infusion, Elemental Infusion goes to Evocation, Conjuration gets Summoning, Enchantment gets Neuromancy, Animation gets Visamancy, Illusion gets Permanency, and Divination gets Sciomancy. 

These are pretty bare right now, but I do have a general idea of where I want to take each of them. Negative, Positive, and Elemental Infusion are all basically item/place enchantment, but limited to defensive, utilitarian/offensive, and elemental effects. The last type is also able to create elementals.

Summoning works basically like LotFP summoning, I think, but with specific rituals that summon specific entities that teach you a spell to bring them into combat. (see: this article). 

Visamancy is just creating golems or undead. Some spells will do stuff like this quicker, but the rituals are most efficient. Probably ACKS will serve as the skeleton for this. 

Permanency is weird one. The rituals will mostly make illusions permanent, but I think other spells could be made permanent as well although their effects won’t be as “real” as the other spells. 

Sciomancy is going to be a body of rituals that help you figure out shit. Scrying is the most obvious one, but stuff like Ideitfy or analyze dweomer will also fall in here, in addition to spells that answer questions about an object or person’s history, future, properties, etc.

Neuromancy is mostly going to be mind-alteration but permanent. Shit like mind-slavery, manchurian candidate gambits, and incepting memories and ideas fall under this.  

Adept Spell casting Mechanic

So, the Adept’s spellcasting mechanic was spell points but I found that this was too tedious and required far too much book-keeping, since it was pretty well expected that an Adept’s spell points amy go up and down pretty much constantly. The idea of this isn’t what I want to change; the frequency and scope of the changes is really does push it over the edge into tediousness, I feel. What I want is unity-scale addition and subtraction, where losing or gaining a “spell point” is actually noteworthy. The points will still approximately measure how much power the Adept is basically capable of using, but instead of being currency in the traditional sense, it will more likely represent exhaustion, depletion, etc. throughout the day. I’m going to call this system the Stratum power mechanic, since again the points are representing the level of the Adept’s current power.

I’m thinking I’ll balance this around the number 5 as a fairly stiff upper limit against which Adepts will have to run. Incidentally, this solves one of the more cumbersome issues I was dealing with in the old system- spell level. In this system, Adept spells will also have a Stratum level which will also be their “Circle” (spell level) if they need conversion for use by wizards, or vice-versa.

The Five Maximum Strata also keeps Adepts on the intended power curve of most classes- fifth level is when most of them drop off gainin

This may seem like the Adepts only get access to fifth level spells maximum. While general usage will basically limit them to that, there will be ways to inflate Strata temporarily (and dangerously) for casting big spells. In general, however, the casting of spells greater than 5th with any reliability is left to the Wizard and possibly Sorcerer (more on them later).

Core Rules

Adepts now have a depletable resource called Strata, representing approximately their present magical ability. Spells also have associated Strata, analogous to Spell Level or Spell Circle, which represents the magical power needed to perform the spell. The Adept can not cast a spell unless they are at or above the Stratum of the spell.

  • This is meant to make the Adept run out of juice faster than the Wizard does. In the Wizard rewrite I’m working on, they will be able to cast any Circle/level spell with any slot (with a corresponding bonus or penalty), have access to spell recall, and thus presumably keep up their spell casting a very long time at moderate risk to themselves. The Adept can’t even take this risk but won’t have any mishaps to worry about, just the loss of their powers as the day goes on.

The Adept must beat 10+Spell Stratum on the spell casting roll to successfully cast the spell. The Adept adds their current Stratum to all their spell casting rolls.

  • Having them add their Stratum to the roll AND having the roll based on Spell Stratum may seem needlessly complex, but I feel like the reliability of their lower level spells should also decrease throughout the day.

Strata is regained at the rate of 1 Stratum per night’s rest, back to maximum.

  • Another limit on their power- a lot of fighting can severely hamper an Adept’s spell casting for longer periods of time. The wizard just needs a night’s rest and is ready to go. Strata can even go negative, in certain situations.

Some Adept classes will be able to meditate during a watch to try and gain 1 Stratum, temporarily exceeding their normal limit above. There are other ways to gain Strata temporarily.

  • See: drugs, observances.

I think the roll breakdown will look like this:

Target or Greater: Successful Cast
Target-5 or Greater: Cast, loss of 1 Stratum
Target-5 or Less: Failure, loss of 1 Stratum
Target-10 Natural 1 : Failure, loss of Stratum equal to Stratum Level

Corollaries and Scaling Powers

Many of my Adept spells as written have variable costs based on the size of the magic at hand. For example, the Purify spell may purify X man-days of food, where the cost is Triangle Number X. I can adapt this by making the Strata of the spell X and purify Tr X man-days of food, for example. The power increases, but because the Adept can only go to Tr 5 = 15 which enforces a natural limit.

Corollaries will still exist, I think, but manifest as negative modifiers to the spell casting roll or an upfront Strata cost. In fact, I think the can range from mechanical stuff to obscure rites or materials. I think it fits the notion of Adept spells as accumulated ritual and religious practice, as opposed to the rigid formulae of wizard spells.

Example of a re-worked class: The Dark Druid

Alternate Mechanic For Sorcerers: Strain

Strain functions similarly, except that Strain goes up through the day instead of down. To cast a spell of a certain Strata/Circle, you must have Strain equal to half the spell level, round up. Each point of Strain (past the first) also increases the range of critical failure by 1. So a Sorcerer with 4 strain can cast 8th level spells, but will have to roll on the Mishap table on a natural 1-4. Strain goes down 1d6+1 when resting (min. 1) and increases whenever an even number is rolled for a spell casting roll, excepting critical failures. Strain can increase indefinitely.

This, I think, is a fairly elegant way to adapt the Sorcerer. They now have to “rev up” to cast their more powerful spells and casting those spells is increasingly dangerous. Adding Strain to the spell casting roll also gives them a way to cast their highest level spells, which wasn’t always the case before.

Academic Year AAR

Despite Advanced Lab’s best efforts, I have not yet died, and have now returned to blogging. This post really should’ve come little less than a month ago, around when we actually stopped playing, but what with finals, final projects, and just general end of semester malaise, it got pushed back a couple weeks. Then with my holiday of sleeping in 16 hours a day, followed by the traditional post-semester sickness (must be a stress thing) it got pushed back a bit further.

Edit: Just now remembered you might want to be able to see what it is I’m talking about: Google Drive Document Link

What Worked

Well, people wanted to play. I always take that as a good sign, so yippee.

At some point I moved away from 3d6 in order to 1d4-1d4 in order, with the score and modifier becoming functionally identical. The modifier distribution is much different now, with extreme scores far more common. It makes characters fun, but since I have no interest in making people play characters they don’t like I still let them mulligan if the sum of scores is less than 0.

I may also allow them to “normalize” scores by allowing them to move a negative score closer to 0 by reducing a positive score by the same amount (only to 0)

Character creation in general seems very straightforward to most players. After doing it once, on of my players was able to explain it to a new player. Though I credit most of that to my brother, since they’re a modified version of his rules. The only snag I hit regularly is the “roll one take the higher result, roll another tale the lower” which I added back into represent different human lineages.

Sorcerers are a riot, and probably the most popular caster class. It’s probably top three of all classes, which is pretty impressive considering it’s only a subclass. Unfortunately motifs and metamagic have yet to be thoroughly tested. The mishaps table was a lot of fun, but too harsh and in my mind a little too small. I’ve upgraded it to a percentile roll, with more focus on mutations and less on “immediately irradiated/kill everything around you.”

What Did Not Work

Oh boy. Here we go.

Armor class has proven a constant confusion for my players and equally constant annoyance for me. However, I suspect the confusion is a matter of communication, particularly with how the armor class is listed on the character sheet. The current setup simply has different scores listed for “base” AC or “touch” AC with no mention of what constitutes the scores. In future I’m going to redesign the character sheet so that the players list the contribution from dexterity, shield, armor, etc. This way I can just ask them to subtract contributions from their actual AC, based on the nature of the attack.

That issue is easily fixable. The rest isn’t. Spellcasters in particular seem to have issues. The adept is the better of the two, but suffers from really tedious bookkeeping o  the part of the players. I expected this to be a problem when I chose a spell-point system; however, with all the points they lose and gain over the course of an adventuring day and the fact that they don’t regain all their lost points after resting is pretty annoying to keep track of.

They also don’t really interact with the spellcasting roll. I’m not a fan of this, and I don’t want this already highly specialized mechanic used for only one class. So in the interest of tackling both issues at once, I’m going to revamp the spellcasting mechanic for adepts. It will still be a spell-point system, I think, but with a lot of changes to usability. The numbers involved will generally be a lot smaller, and the players won’t need to subtract off points every time they cast a spell. The class as a whole will be more oriented towards better reliability but more limited power than a wizard, which was my original goal. But I’m seriously cutting back on their ability to sustain themselves (magically speaking) throughout the day, especially the more martially based ones. Also, the adept will probably have their XP progression changed to match the wizards. Magic ain’t cheap…unless you’re a rogue.

But on the note of the wizard, this brings me to the biggest issue. No one wants to play wizards. Now, this might just be an issue of having mostly new players, and I do recommend that newer players avoid the class. But I’ve been thinking about it, and the wizard I’ve got now is definitely even more fiddly then the Adept is. You’ve got more spell slots than a 5e wizard, and each slot has to be prepared with a specific spell, and then you can invest some of your slots into panoply items, and your grimoire can only hold 10 spells, and you can’t prepare duplicates unless you have two copies of the spells. It’s basically a fucking mess, and may end up running more like a spell-point system then I would like, because panoply investment also takes into account the level of the spell. So I’m going to have to simplify some shit.

First of all, the panoply will no longer take into account the different spell levels. It will just be “X slots for Y abilities” and that’s that. Yeah, players are going to preferentially invest lower level slots, but it’s not a big deal, since the most spell slots you ever at each spell level is like 5 when your still filling out your panoply.

Spell preparation is now 5e preparation. You got spell-slots of high enough level and the spell prepped, you can do it, boss. Actually, you can do it without, as well. There will be a penalty to the casting roll if you use a lower level slot, and a roll bonus for casting with a higher one. I may even allow casting without spell slots at a massive penalty.

Duplicate spells flummox me yet again. Once I thought duplicate spells were necessary to game balance, but came around to one each. Now I’m thinking they may be necessary again. I think I’ll go for some kind of compromise, with a penalty to spell-casting roll if you’ve cast it already today.

Aside from the changes above, the panoply could do with more simplifying. The familiar is going to be removed and folded into the Servant, which is going to get a few more rules to guide me and the players through the process of finding and binding one. It will also be a more mutual agreement between and servant and master, in general. Forcing a devil to do shit for you against its will should be a challenge. I may potentially add the Cabal to the panoply to round out the lost item/spell level.

The spell levels for stat bonuses can stay, but probably in a diminished form. I’m probably going to totally rework talismans.+X to Y Save is pretty darb. We’ll see though, because I’m probably going to slash save progression past ninth level.

Fighters seem to be popular and playable. With the addition of Specializations and weapon-perks and all the other crap, I kind of feel like they may be overloaded with too much. They’re supposed to be the simplest class. I’ve considered many times removing one or the other. I also feel like they’re at constant risk of being overshadowed by rogues or martially oriented adepts. Both of those classes are supposed to be pretty good at fighting as well, but they should basically always lose in a straight fight against a fighter of the same level. This basically is what caused me to add Specializations in the first place, to give them something the other classes could never have. But never is such a strong word, and I’d be inclined to rule that a rogue or adept of sufficient level could learn some tricks of the trade as a special ability*. I’ve also given an AC bonus to fighters as they level. In addition to probably skyrocketing them to the most popular class right then and there, this should make sure they stay well ahead of the curb in terms of fighting ability.

I’ve gotten to the point where it feels like I’m not going to remove either of them, but I have already removed Break Their Ranks! as a class feature. They get enough extra attacks with their weapon perks, and I personally have never got much enjoyment out of throwing hordes of humanoids at them. The orcs in my game are sort of their own thing that’s been metastasizing in my brain and not intended to (always) act as cannon fodder. Humanoids in general are pretty thin on the ground. The last post I made about them may have made it seem opposite, but most of those are getting retconned the hell out. It’s really down to the goblins, kobolds, and Anilins, and the last aren’t really vicious fighting spirits. So with so few humanoids, why not use humans? And if we’re using humans, what reason have we got for ruling out diplomacy? None, and it tends to go that way a bit in my games- so much that I’ve come to plan for it.

I’ve also got something of an idea (maybe more of a quality of life improvement) for dealing with large groups of enemies without minis or strict positional record keeping, which will be coming in another blog post.

Miscellaneous Suggestions/Reminders So I Don’t Forget Them

*to self: actually write the fucking special ability rules you fool
Rogue combat talents, especially ranged/pugilism ones need a look over. Musical talents need to be ready before fall semester. Beastmaster talents whenever.
Actually use the calendar you wrote, asshole. Better time records.
Convert/prep some dungeons over the summer, for god’s sakes.
Decide what is going on with the Spirit Realm. Release related classes.

Setting Discussions

Lastly, we come to setting issues. Turns out most of my players weren’t even aware they were on a fucking Bishop Ring till after the fall semester, so…yeah. But with loftier idea’s out of the way, I was going for more of an East Asian flavoring over fairly typical knights/kings/medieval fantasy/etc. but may have leaned too heavily on the foreign language dictionaries. From now on  place names are going to be more unassumingly and descriptively English (Black Hills, Yewhill, etc.), and people will be more referred to by title. It fits the sort of feel I’m going for better anyways, I think.

What I really want is for my players to “get” my setting. Not all the deep lore or whatever, but that sort of familiarity/desire to know more that permeates successful fantasy settings it. When Luke walks into a seedy bar in Mos Eisley, when Harry Potter has to go around buying all his shit from Diagon Alley, I think the viewer or reader “gets” the setting through the subtle details of worldbuilding sort of seeded throughout. It’s familiar but all different again, and it hooks people in. I think those franchises owe a lot of their success to those particular scenes and the ones preceding them.

One last thing that’s been bothering me if how high magic things have been getting. I”m more attracted to low fantasy games and settings, but I’m also fairly committed to it for this project, mostly to see if it can work. So much fantasy I see nowadays has got spells whizzing all around the place and weird magic and magical abilities for every wizard and monk that comes hopping down the lane. I like fantasy where everything works the same way it does in real life, except when it doesn’t, because then that’s special.

Adepts have been particularly troubling in this regard, especially the ones that have ties to organizations in the greater world. Adepts in general are meant to be rather rare, and the guys who are under the control of a church structure definitely need a reason to be running around with these yahoos collecting treasure. I’ve considered giving them a fate point cost at character creation and forcing the player to explain their character’s relationship to their hierarchy. It should give them incentive to roleplay a bit more and maybe actually observe their tenants, while cutting down on the number of adepts overall.

I’ve also had an idea, which I may or may not elaborate on in a future post, of bringing them campaign into space. Not Spelljammer, no. No, something more like what I always thought Spelljammer should be. Namely, comparatively technologically primitive societies who by luck or shoddy homegrown tech or maybe a bit of magic or whatever figured out hermetic seals and solar sails and now have spaceships. Meanwhile, their most opulent palaces lack indoor plumbing. Space works same way it does in real life. You need a crew and a biological calculator, not a wizard… although a wizard may help for that last part.

The Devil Princes of Carbax

The sky has two suns. One provides life and light to the ring, glowing white and bright in the sky.

The other is Carbax, the Devil Sun. It simmers red and hateful, day and night. It also gives life, but not to the ring or the world of men. There lies the Devil Courts, where magic and power and madness are traded and stolen, all brokered by the Devil Princes and their lieutenants.

These are these names, domains, and realms.

Melsh

The master of courtesy, splendor, and betrayal. He and his court claims to have invented and disseminated all the trappings of civilization. His devils are known as the Painted Devils. His realm is Gadal, an asteroid of crystal and glass, a city carved all across its surface.

Kadon

The king of kings, master of hierarchy and royalty and creator of class, caste, and contract. He raised the first kings of men, was the first king by some estimations. He is served by the Devil Counts, Barons, and Dukes, who lord over their demesnes from a thousand thousand castles and fastnesses in the realm of Avalon, a harsh and austere world of cold seas and rocky islands.

Pilact

The Prince(s) of consensus, community, and change. They are also known as the crusher of dissent, and the death of independent thought. They are served by or perhaps serve the Million Devils. The realm of Capria is a now emptied ecumenopolis all the way down to the core, ruled nominally by Pilact and actually by the few communes that survived the last convulsions of violence.

Juvias

The Prince of ambition, singularity, and mistrust. He is “served” by the August Devils, who pursue their own agendas, and are perhaps the most diverse of any devils. They also deal most often with mortals and wizards. Their realm is a desolate, airless landscape of isolated peaks and towers.

Affra

The Devil Prince (Princess?) of love, lust, devotion, and passion. She (it?) is also called the Darklover, and has power over sorrow and joy. Their court is filled with the Amorous Devils, who run amok in creation to tempt and reproduce. Their realm is the planet Siltol, half covered with steaming, vampiric jungle, and the rest covered with sweltering desert.

Garal

The master of greed, want, and luxurious splendor. It is also known as the Rapacious Lord, and is served by the Gilded Devils. Garal’s realm is a great stellated dodecahedron known as Masop, in which all the material pleasures and treasures of the world are contained.

Elact and Voath

The two masters of war, conflict, and strife, who have been warring with each other since time immemorial. They are served by the Belligerent and Bellicose Devils, respectively. Really, they are more alike than different. Their realms fluctuate across the wartorn binary planets of Poul and Esht.

Foroth

The master of forbidden knowledge, secrets, philosophy, prophecy, and sophistry. Also known as the Profaner or All-Seeing Prince. It is served by the Seeing Devils, who trade for knowledge in all its forms. Its realm, known as Yiol, is a deep blue ice giant in which the knowledge the devils hoard is contained.

Nereyl

The mistress of death, decay, and entropy. Also known as the Nemesis Queen, and Guardian of the Dead, and has powers over mutation and evolution.She is served by the Blight Devils. The distant realm of Nemesis is a desolate, icy hellscape with pockets of subterranean sub-courts. She is hated by Ceras and all the other devil lords, and actively rebels against them.

Ceras

The Master of all the Devils, Lord of Undeath, Longevity, and Anentropy. This is god of the gods, the most powerful by far. All the other lords, save Nereyl, at least outwardly bend their knees. His control is loose to non-existent. His realm is technically Carbax itself, which is swollen to enormous size by his presence in the core. However, it also claims the tidally locked world of Seph. He is served by the Eternal Devils, and many, many undead.

Seph’s is also an ecumenopolis, filled with undead, devils, men, and demons (aliens). The light side is built around the bones of a network of smaller cities, raised long ago by Ceras’s orders. In between those and all across the night-side, the dregs of society threw up their own ramshackle architecture to accommodate the traders, refugees, and petitioners. Seph is now seen by Ceras as a horrific entropy-engine, a city of waste, want, and hated disorder. Yet he does not destroy, as would be simple for him to do. It is out of love that he preserves his erstwhile children, as is everything that he does to fight the inevitability of death.

The Wizards

Wizard in my game are like warlocks. Men’s souls are bright but weak sources of magic, and the must be augmented by the panoply. Items in the panoply include the grimoire, talismans, raiments, foci (a staff usually), a familiar, a servant, and a sanctum. If you want to cast an Xth level spell, you need X panoply items. But all of the above items only count once to your maximum castable spell level, so what’s the deal? Well, to truly ascend to the heights of mortal power, you need to make a Pact.

Note: Servants and Familiars also tend to be minor devils, but in theory be any sufficiently magical creature that agrees to service.

A pact is a deal with the a Devil Prince or one of their lieutenants. Again, these are unique and vary from devil to devil and wizard to wizard. Usually the benefits start at a spell slot of the highest level a wizard can cast and the cancellation of all experience penalties, whilst the costs typically start at the immortal soul of the wizard, one creed the wizard must always follow, and one favor owed by the wizard, to be carried out before their death, the particular nature of the favor to be determined at a later date. However, everything said for servants applies here as well, but the benefits can apply anywhere. Kingdoms, money, stat increases, XP bonuses, anything is possible.  Again, making a pact is roleplaying, not rolling.

Wizards who violate the terms of the pact (breaks a creed, doesn’t complete a favor) may be subjected to curses, lose their benefits, or even die, depending on the pact. The broker of the pact will usually “forget” to mention these unless prodded.

A wizard may have as many pacts as they want, with each one providing access to a new spell level.  Such arrangements are permanent unless the pact stipulates some exit condition, which a Devil Prince or lieutenant will almost never agree to include.

EX: Aldemos seeks arcane power through the Devil Prince Juvias. In exchange for two additional spell slots of the highest level he can cast and a ten percent bonus to all experience, Juvias requests his soul, a favor, and that he hoard his power and take no apprentices. Aldemos accepts, and gains great power as a result, eventually growing well-famed and achieving many court appointments. Soon he enters service with a powerful king, and earns an unprecedented marriage to the king’s daughter daughter. Shortly thereafter, Juvias notices, and believing Aldemos’s trust and love for his new wife holds him back, the Prince calls in his favor: kill his wife and family. Aldemos balks at this request, and instead tries to flee, family in tow. Aldemos and family is violently killed by devils the very same day, his soul dragged to the domains of Juvias.