Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Arcana (WIP Open Legend 1)

Another look at some setting material for Open Legend

As we all know, the high sciences of the Arcanas, or Magic, as the common folk understand it flows from one of eight Spheres of energy.  It takes a special connection to the Spheres to be able to properly and rightly wield the Arcanas, and most common folk don’t have the connection in their blood.  On occasion a dabbler in the Arcanas may come from the ranks of the common folk, but true Arcane power rests within the 8 families of the Yeltharan Council.

Founded by Yeltha, shortly after opening the sky, the Yeltharan Council was  convened to take stock of all of the Arcane resources available to the survivors and put them to the best use. Prior to the Dark Exodus, it was extremely common to find Arcanists who could wield all the Spheres with the same level of proficiency, but during the time spent wandering, some connections were severed and re-arranged until only a few like Yeltha herself could wield all the Spheres.  The strongest and wisest masters of each Sphere formed loosely aligned families around their arcane connections.  

Eventually these families became bonded by marriage and tradition to one another until they became closely woven social networks.  Being a Highborn Arcanist (as these magical Aristocrats are often referred to) bestows prestige and power that most people will ever imagine.  Being the head of one of these 8 families puts a person on the Yeltharan Council itself and gives them access to the Ear of Empress herself.  

To keep the magical bloodlines strong, the Yeltharan Council has taken steps to marry members of different families together which can make some interesting Sphere connections between users of different families.  Occasionally, a lowborn dabbler that shows remarkable talent (and we do mean truly remarkable) is adopted by the family that best fits his or her aptitude.  

(Rundown of the 8 families)

The Centorish Family

The Centorish family, currently headed by Lilia Centorish, are the undisputed masters of the Sphere of Alteration.  With the ability to reshape matter, the Centorish have been responsible for numerous great works throughout the island of Yeltharan, including roads, walls, civic buildings and the Empress’s Palace at Rathroshi.  With their ability to change the substance of reality, most of the Centorish family look at people as a surprisingly trustworthy thing.  “You know how quickly things can change, put your faith in your fellows,” was a common saying of Elijah Centorish, the founder of the family.  

The Aberjohn Family

The Aberjohn family, currently headed by Gareth Aberjohn, are the experts with the magic of the Sphere of Creation.  The Creation Sphere focuses on the energy that heals the sick and the wounded, and bringing new life into the world.  At least half of the family is working on trying to cure the ills caused by the uncontrolled magical energies outside the Boundary, and this sends many of them off on errands across the world.  

The Granhamm Family, currently headed by Annatolia Granhamm, are the lords and ladies of the Sphere of Energy.  The current goal of the family is to use the power of the Sphere of Energy to revitalize the Boundary and push back the encroaching Desolation.  To that end, the Granhamms are looking for ways to draw more and more power out of the Sphere to power up the Boundary.

The Joachin Family, currently headed by Kernath Joachin, are masters of the Sphere of Entropy.  Utilizing the Sphere of Entropy, they are tackling the Desolation head on, seeking to unmake the corrupted creatures that exist within it.  Dark rumors also paint them as experts in the art of reanimation and reawakening of the Dead.  

The Hezbran Family, currently headed by Francheska Hezbran, are disciples of the Sphere of Influence.  Using the Sphere of Influence, they work to shape a common consensus on the issues plaguing Yeltharan and utilize their impressive command of mental powers to bring people together.  They want everyone to work together towards a harmonious unity.

The Sunspire Family, currently headed by Marishalla Sunspire, are the most connected to the Sphere of Movement.  Utilizing the inherent nature of the Sphere of Movement, the Sunspire family has a well deserved reputation as a master of logistics and trade.

The Longfall Family, currently headed by Desmond Longfall, are the Seers of the Sphere of Prescience.  Long have they sought the mysteries of the future and other omens and portents.  Currently they are losing clarity, and rumors of a catastrophe that looms over Yeltharan regularly make their way around Council chambers.  

The Bannerock Family, currently headed by Zaharath Bannerock, are the keepers of the Sphere of Protection.  They have long considered themselves experts on the method of dealing with the Boundary and have sought to understand that particularly ancient magical artifice.  They also work to ward other locations and buildings from harm, and are particularly active in the cities and towns across  Yeltharan

Concepts for this section:

Highborn Arcanist:

You are a member of one of the 8 families of the Yeltharan Council.  When you select this Perk, choose one of the families to be a member of .  This otherwise functions as the Arcane Bloodline perk.  

Character Suggestions:

Supernatural focus (Your family’s associated Supernatural Trait)
Specialize in 1 Supernatural Attribute (probably the one associated with your Highborn Family)
If you are wanting to play a High ranking member of the Family, also pick up the Nobility Perk.  
Suggested Flaws: Proud, Ambitious

Lowborn Arcanist:  

You are not a member of one the eight families of the Yeltharan Council but still possess magical aptitude.  The Lowborn are drawn from all social strata and walks of life, but still don’t command the respect of most of the citizens of Yelthara.  This is a Flaw that encapsulates social discrimination from other members of society.  You are not considered to be an expert on matters arcane, and your opinions are often unheeded by most folk.  

Character Suggestions:  

Spread out your expertise in your supernatural attributes.  Unlike a Highborn Arcanist, you aren’t inherently tied to a single Sphere of magic, so look at interesting ways to combine your supernatural attributes together.  
Suggested Perks:  Any social background can give rise to a Lowborn Arcanist,  so look and see what feels right for your character.  Noble, Scholar, Merchant are just a few options, and Lowborn Arcanist can work very well for a lot of different Perk Choices.  

(Keep in mind that you can play a wizard/magic using type character that takes neither of these perks.  Shamans and other mystical traditions have shaped the world of Yeltharan since before the Dark Exodus, and will continue to influence it in mysterious and hidden ways until the end of time.)

The Mysteria

As the need for raw stone and metal started to overtake the meager supplies that the survivors had brought with them, they turned to heavy mining operations in both the Storm Cradle Mountains, and the lower hills on the far end of the Island Continent.  Reserves of iron, copper, tin, gold and silver were found close to the surface, in locations that defied the few miners that had made the long trek.  Spearheaded by the efforts of the Gedra, the new mines were opened and flourishing within a generation of the first digs.  Gems and other precious stones were also found deep in the mines, but a new, unusual material was also found.  The first miners called them Mysteries, and this eventually morphed into Mysteria over time.  The Mysteria comes in a variety of colorations, and as a mineral they are mono-colored crystals of varying size.  The important thing that most miners noticed about them was that they glowed with an inner light.  The very few experts on the topic concluded that each of the eight typically occurring Mysteria corresponded to one of the Spheres of Magic, and probably were either a distillation of that Sphere into a physical form, or were reservoirs of naturally occurring Sphere energy.  

The crystals weren’t inherently valuable to anyone, and if they were touched by the Spheres, the Yeltharan Council was unable to detect such a connection or draw strength from the gathered energy.  Since they were found in nodes alongside valuable ores and gems, the Mysteria were gathered and warehoused in a variety of locations, and would have remained a curiosity if not for the intervention of an overly excitable historian with access to the Royal Archives.  

Franklin Dereste’s Wild Ride

Franlkin Dereste was a court companion to Cartis Yeltharan (The Empress’s Consort) about 90 years ago.  The Empress, while happy to have Cartis at home, absolutely detested Franklin, and sought out a solution to keep her consort happy and his companion out of her hair.  Franklin had been “requesting” access to the Royal Archives for months (including one particularly spectacular request involving pre-dawn fireworks and a parade), and though Franklin had come within a hair’s breadth of a death warrant at least twice, Cartis was able to intervene to save his friend.  
The Empress (almost apoplectic at the time) encouraged Franklin to investigate the deepest portions of the Royal Archives (insisting that he take at least two of her personal bodyguards with him) until such time as he was satisfied with what he’d found.  Thanking her Imperial Majesty for the opportunity, Franklin set off to explore the Archives.  

The Archives Proper
The Royal Archives were a complex Honeycomb of tunnels, chambers and storage facilities that the Yeltharan family put into place within the first generation of settlement.  Everything that wasn’t immediately necessary to begin the settlement process was stored here.  Books, maps, art, and a wealth of other information from the world before the Dark Exodus was locked up within the Archives.  

Over time, more chambers were added (with a much more organized approach to construction. The original Archives were repurposed mining tunnels and caverns that surrounded the vault where the Dark Exodus ended and Yeltha opened up the sky again).  Several different groups of scholars were established to keep an orderly watch over the Archives, and these men and women held the history of Yeltharan as their domain.  Even they rarely entered the oldest archives, as rumors of shifting construction, monstrous denizens, and maddening hallucinations were all reported by the guardians put in place to watch over the archives.  

Eventually, a detachment of Gedra were constructed to monitor the oldest portions of the archives, and this worked more efficiently for the scribes.  Occasionally a Gedra would go missing, but those were few and far between, and the Archives were much safer.  With the permission of the Empress, Franklin and his “bodyguards” entered the oldest portions of the Archives.  

Two and a half years later, a very different Franklin Dereste emerged from the Royal Archives.  He’d been severely injured, and lost both of his bodyguards along the way, but he brought several items of great importance from the Archives, and three books  that he’d penned himself.  Even Cartis couldn’t get a straight answer from his friend about what he’d seen in the Archives, just a soft smile before the conversation changed.

Royal physicians examined Franklin at the insistence of the Empress, and he was a different person than he had been before he entered the Archives.  Portions of his body had been replaced with artificial limbs (similar to some of the oldest known designs for the Gedra) and his body had appreciably gained in muscles mass and density.  He was stronger and tougher than he had been before the trip into the Archives, but the greatest changes were mental, not physical.  

The flighty, irresponsible courtesan had matured into a hard edged academic with knowledge across dozens of topics.  He spent many of his nights debating topics from geometry to meteorology with the finest scholars in Yeltharan.    He dismissed the Arcana as the solution to all of the ills of the world and proposed a new path towards taking back their island home from the Desolation.  He debuted a new kind of Science.

Using the Mysteria as sources of power, Franklin showed off tremendous innovations in scientific ideas and options.  Machines, powered by the Mysteria, could replace a great deal of the labor force, and allow the Gedra a notion of freedom. No longer would they be required to do the heavy lifting and the hard, physical labor that the island required to sustain itself.  The new machines would be capable of doing this and more.  

He dispersed copies of his original three books throughout the intellectuals of Yeltharan, and it took a very long time to catch on.  Franklin spent the remainder of his life at the side of the Empress, showcasing new ideas and innovations.  Though not a fan of his in her early life, she came to favor the academic as his life came to an end.  His ashes were scattered around the Yeltharan family crypt, and his essence was taken by the Yeltharan family Gedra at the moment of his death.  

In the thirty years since his death, Dereste’s journals and treatises have inspired a new generation of academics and engineers to expand on his ideas and build engineering marvels.  New versions of the Gedra are appearing for the first time since their original introduction.  Steam powered assemblies using Mysteria are mining, digging, and harvesting crops and trees.  There are rumors of Mysteria powered weapons and armor.  The common folk are unsure of what to make of these new marvels.  

For most folk, the idea of this kind of power is a dream.  Magical devices that perform similar operations require a connection to the Spheres to work, and without that connection, that magical staff may as well be a broom.  The marvels being brought forth by the workshops and engineering collectives are usable by all people.  Anyone can use a new digging device, and the engineers are working to make sure that they are universally available.  

With the power previously reserved for those of the arcane bloodlines rapidly becoming available to the common folk, the Yeltharan Council is crafting a response to bring before the Empress.  Theoretical debates rage through the halls of higher learning, and on occasion, real duels are being fought in the streets to determine which is better, Tech or Magic.  Tensions are building, and the next few years could determine the direction Yeltharan goes.  

Character Ideas:


The engineers are the crafters and builders who saw Dereste’s work and set out to apply it to real world problems.  They are grounded in making the world around them a better place by making industry easier on the common folk.  They are as well versed in the underlying theories and principles as any of the “Techs” but would rather not speculate on alternative uses.  By the book builders and makers.

Suggested Traits

Logic and Learning are the attributes you’re going to want to focus on.  

Feats:  Craft, Knowledge, Wealthy, Supernatural Focus (Mysteria would be the item you’re connected to), (At higher levels, Craft Beneficial or Baneful Item)

Perks and Flaws:  
Engineers come from all walks of life and can use any of the social backgrounds effectively.  I would avoid taking the Highborn Arcanist or Arcane Bloodline Perks without talking to your GM about the character’s background.  Suggested Flaws: Honest, Overt.  

Optional Flaw:  
Down to Earth:  Most folks with this trait look at a situation from the perspective of “How does this help people now in the short term.”  Very practical, short term thinkers who don’t necessarily care what it COULD do eventually, but focused on what it DOES do right now.  These thinkers tend to focus on improving and refining an existing idea to its best possible function (the mark 38 Steam shovel) before innovating a new idea (the Mark 1 Electric Dirt Blaster).  


The “Techs” are the theoretical boundary pushers of the Scientific age.  Always testing and working to extend the understanding of what Dereste’s philoshophies could do, Techs are always building new machines and quirky little one off projects.  Independent thinker is an understatement, and you can never tell what a Tech has on his mind or up his sleeve.  

Suggested Traits

Learning and Logic are also essential for the success of a Tech.  Supernatural attributes for this character represent a much more direct interaction with Dereste’s principles.  They are as likely to attempt to directly channel the Mysteria as they are to build a device around it.  

Feats: Bane Focus, Boon Access, Boon Focus, Craft Beneficial/Baleful Item, Knowledge

Perks/Flaws:Artisan, Divine Insight (You are connected to the formulaic principles of Science and they provide insights) Local Hero or Outlaw are appropriate depending on where you’re from and what the level of dislike the local Wizards have towards the profession).  Conversely, Absent-Minded, Brash, Bravado, Hot-Tempered, Proud, and Stubborn are all things that Techs have been accused of being.  

The Gedra

As the survivors fled deep underground, the shamans and savants offered each family a “Gedra” to help them along their way.  Originally, the Gedra were intended to help the family move the distance, carry heavy burdens, and do whatever labors were required.  As time passed, and the survivors started to fall prey to the things in the deep earth, The Gedras took on an additional role.  Engraved into each Gedra (some were engraved, some were chiseled, depending on the Gedra) were the names of every family member who made the journey.  They became sapient histories and household shrines to the living and the dead.  

The Shamans took this a step further, and gave each Gedra the ability to store the essence of a person named on their physical bodies.  The Gedra bore this task like every other they were given, and for two generations, they carried the souls of the survivors through the darkest places of the deep earth.  

When the sky was opened again, the Gedra had their first experience with the lit world.  The experience changed them, and the Gedra became more than simple laborers and automatons.  The sunlight made them self-aware and intelligent.  The Gedra often manifested the voices or mannerisms of the souls they carried within them.  

The Gedra were welcomed into their households, and every family that survived the Dark Exodus accepted their metallic and stony kinsmen.  As families grew, and the population increased, the Yeltharans commissioned a great stonework to build more Gedra, and to this day, every young adult, upon reaching their majority either inherits the family’s Gedra, or are granted one of their own by the Empress’s own decree.  The “Techs” have introduced new designs and options for Gedra in the last thirty years, and are rapidly expanding the functionality and capabilities of the newer models.   

Physical Characteristics

Gedra are an idealized humanoid form (They lack the mutational changes that dominate the majority of Yeltharan.  They are human, sculpted in either a female or male form depending on the whim of the creator).  There are two body styles, one male, one female, and Every Gedra uses this same base form as its starting point.  Depending on the social status of the family the Gedra belongs to (or is being gifted to) it can be adorned with precious metal inlays, gemstones, or a myriad of other personal touches.  The oldest Gedra appear to be sculpted from exotic metals, while the vast majority of the Gedra population are made of stone (Granite and Marble are by far the most common examples).  The Tech Gedra appear to be assembled from many tiny parts, and all have a bit of Mysteria powering them.  This gives them a soft glowing hue to their eyes, and is one of the easiest ways to identify them.  

The Male Gedra physique is 6’4” tall and weighs around 600 pounds for the stone version.  He has human facial features including a sharp, aquiline nose and sculpted curly hair.  His body is built for the rigors of work.

The Female Gedra physique is 5’8” tall and weighs around 450 pounds in stone form.  She is not quite as tall or as heavily constructed as her male counterpart.  Her features are similar, but her hair is longer and straight.  Her body is also built for the rigors of work.

The statuary is thick and capable of supporting great weights and lifting very heavy objects.  The Gedra has the same level of articulation as a human, with similar levels of manual dexterity and agility.  The Gedra do not get tired, and while parts of it can be broken off, the Gedra will continue to work until physically destroyed or commanded not to by its owners/adoptive family.

Gedra have been responsible for most of the major works of Yeltharan.  Their hands tilled the first fields to grow food.  Their shoulders bore the weight of trees to build houses.   Their bodies went into the deep mines to pull the raw stone and metal to build many great works of art.  They are an indispensable member of most families, and the loss of a Gedra (especially an old one) is a tragic omen for the family it was a part of.

Mental Capabilities
Gedra are as intelligent as their human creators. They have the same sensory abilities and faculties that humans posses.  Gedras bond with their family, and see them as an extension of themselves.  This becomes more pronounced the longer a Gedra is with its family and it has the experiences conferred by the Collection.  

Gedra almost universally are Honest people (some think they come from the factory incapable of lying, but that’s a misunderstanding), and they abhor violence.  Gedra were originally conceived of as Caretakers and the thought of injuring or killing another living creature is so alien to them, that Gedra have been destroyed trying to heal a wounded animal or a Waste Walker.  THey will not harm another creature under any circumstances.  

Even though the Gedra are a created, artificial race, they possess the same emotional range as their creators, though their physical construction and thought patterns make some emotions more difficult to act upon than others.

Supernatural Capabilities

So far, there has never been a Gedra that is capable of connection with the Spheres of Arcana, nor has one ever attempted to study the scientific philosophies of Dereste..  The one supernatural ability that all Gedra possess is the Collection.  

The Collection is the process by which a Gedra absorbs the essence of a dying family member into itself.  This ability requires the Gedra to have the family member’s name engraved on its body somewhere, and that the Gedra be present at the moment of death.  The essence passes from the dead person into the Gedra and over the course of the next week it becomes a part of the Gedra’s personality and mannerism.  The name also glosses over with a white liquid that glows in the dark as part of this process.  Among the oldest families of Yeltharan, the Gedra glow bright enough to light rooms with the names of the family members they’ve collected.  

Game Information:  

Now the Gedra as they sit are a perfectly viable character race choice.  You build them like you would any other adventurer but keep in mind that the Gedras do have a mandatory racial flaw of Pacifism.  They will not pick up weapons for any reason, and refuse to defend themselves.  (There are extremely dark rumors that Gedra that don’t have this limitation exist, but those would be so astonishingly rare that even seeing one would be a once in a life occurrence, if you even noticed what you’d encountered).  That said, Gedra also make excellent companions (for characters that select the companion feat).  

As Characters, Gedras often have the following attributes

High Might, High Fortitude.  Gedras are superbly resilient to the realities of labor and the intensity of work that they do on a regular basis.  This setting doesn’t have beasts of burden (primarily horses or cattle) to rely upon, so Gedras are the ones responsible for doing the heavy lifting.  

A High Learning score can also be representative of an extremely old Gedra that has Collected many of its family members.  It becomes a receptacle of their shared memories and can advise the family in times of turmoil.  

A Gedra with a connection to the Supernatural isn’t Impossible, but they are extremely unlikely to occur.  If you want to be one, go ahead, but keep in mind a magic wielding Gedra is going to attract a lot of attention and may result in dismantling.  (This would make an excellent secret for a Gedra character).  

Suggested Feats: Indomitable Endurance, Knowledge, Natural Defense, Resilient, Skill Specialization (Might, Fortitude), Tough as Nails (Disease Immunity)

Perks:  Ascetic, Idol, Jack of all Trades (representing accumulated knowledge from the Collection), Profession (Miner, Farmer, Lumberjack), Pure Hearted, and Stone Sense would all fit within the profile of the Gedra

Flaws:  Must take Pacifist.  Cosmetic Deformity and Disabled can represent varying degrees of permanent damage, Honest, Overt, and Stubborn have all been traits of the Gedra in the past.  

Option 1:  You can avoid taking the Pacifist flaw with your GM’s permission and the understandting that if ANYONE sees you hurt, injure or kill another living creature, it’s going to cause massive social problems.  A rogue Gedra who’s capable of using weapons and armor is also going to draw a massive amount of unwanted attention.  They will hunt you down and destroy you.  Basically this substitutes a Conditionally Wanted Flaw on the character.  

Wanted:  Your character has run afoul of legal authority at some point in the past and currently has a price on his or her head.  Legally authorized representatives of the Government (Bounty hunters and the like) are capable of detaining your character at any point in time, up to the terms of the Warrant.  

Option 2: New Perk:  Artificial.  Your character is a created being.  Whether built in a laboratory or a quarry, your character is not a living creature as the rest of the game world defines it.  You might be resistant to some of the biological agents (poisons and diseases) that affect living creatures or you might not.  This qualifies you to take the Disease Immunity Feat without having its supernatural attribute requirement.  


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