Magic in Archlond

Overview:

Archon magic has some limitations: even sorcerers may be at odds with their unusual powers, and can have difficulty developing precisely the spell they want. Likewise, the scrollbooks of the Archon sages are somewhat lacking in certain spells; but others are very well established. As usual, non-humans (except halflings) develop their magic within their racial traditions, as do the barbarians. Most notable are the traditions of the elves, gnomes, and dwarves. Half-orcs tend to be influenced by the surrounding culture’s tradition, which means that half-orcs (that aren’t with the orcs or dark elves) tend to follow the barbarian tradition (exceptions are notable). Half-elves similarly follow the flow of the surrounding culture, so half-elves tend more toward the Archon ways (unless they grew up in elven lands) as do halflings, but halflings are far less legalistic about magic and much more creative (at least, in their minds). Savage species follow their own magical traditions if they have any; since most savage species lack such traditions, their practitioners almost always fall in with the barbarians (if the barbarians will have them) or the dark elves (who welcome more slaves).

CONTENTS:

  • Elemental Magic
  • Planar Magic
  • Necromancy & Transmutation
  • Illusions & Enchantments
  • Universal Spells
  • Specialist Wizards
  • Sorcerers
  • Bards
  • Divine Casters (Clerics, Druids, Rangers, Paladins, etc.)
  • Magic Items


Elemental magic, spells, and effects are less well known in Archlond than they are in their respective regions. What elemental knowledge does exist tends to be well balanced among the four elements. However, elven influence has led to a small increase in the knowledge of spells associated with air, and dwarven influence has led to a slight increase in the rolls of earthen magic. Such discoveries in turn drove a desire to ‘balance the scales’ which developed some new spells associated with water and fire. Generally speaking, this limitation does not apply to spells of 3rd level or lower, so many wizards know those classic spells fireball and lightning. Higher level elemental spells, however, are typically far less common. Notably, few if any spellcasters have discovered a reliable magical means by which to fly; those who claim such knowledge guard it very carefully, and the pursuit of such knowledge is actually illegal in a number of places.

Planar magic is also still very much a mystery, and some such magic is unreliable at best. Many techniques haven’t even been discovered yet. Generally, any spell that would transition a subject into another plane for any significant time is difficult to come by; spells such as ethereal jaunt and gate are simply unknown. Lesser spells however, such as dimension door and teleport, are supposed to involve the astral or ethereal planes and were fairly quickly (and gladly) discovered, though teleport spells are not at all common. Like the magic to fly, most fantastic means of travel are unknown or heavily guarded and even secret.

Necromancy and Chaotic magic is also hard to come by, where such knowledge is even legal and permitted, though a few, “less evil” spells may be known. In particular, necromancy and transmutation spells that have an elemental, planar, natural, evil, or chaotic association are simply not to be found among the rosters of Archon spells. Such spells may be discovered from the elves, dwarves, gnomes, dark elves, and barbarians, but the dearth of knowledge kept by the Archon schools makes it harder to effectively discover and develop such spells. Archon wizards attempting to develop such spells incur a -4 circumstance penalty on checks made to develop such spells, which lessens to a -2 circumstance penalty if the necromancy or transmutation does not have an elemental, planar, nature, evil, or chaotic association. Typically, they must be familiar with the requisite language as the other races are not in the habit of putting their knowledge down in the common tongue, or even the draconic language. Besides, the difference in primary languages essentially encrypts the knowledge from other races, even those who read the language.
Note: the use of “evil” and “barbaric” magic, or even the discovery of such knowledge may incite a witch hunt, even if authorized. The result largely depends on what authority is invoked (and proved) and how much sway it holds over those who are upset by the magic. For example, if the villagers are not on good terms with the local Duke, his seal may not be enough to protect a visiting necromancer, especially if the writ is not explicitly worded to permit the exercise in question to the letter (thus: crackle, crackle, burn burn). Unless the possessor (or user) of ‘vile’ magic is a clear emissary of some authority who is at least feared or respected, they (and their associates) may get nothing like a fair trial, or at least, what counts as a fair trial in Archlond (see Archon Law).

Illusions and Enchantments are the province of elves and gnomes, and generally looked upon with a bit of disdain, both for being ‘fanciful’ and less than honorable, but the list of spells doesn’t suffer too much for it. Spells that lend themselves to dishonorable or illegal actions, such as invisibility and even charm person are typically outlawed themselves (except via special permit), and knowledge of such spells is usually hidden, obscured, secreted, protected, locked up, and guarded, in addition to other precautions taken as possible. Such spells are unlikely to be found in actual spellbooks, but if they are, the entire book will be subject to the aforementioned precautions, lest bad things happen. The rare wizard who dabbles in illicit magic (including necromancy, chaos, etc.) generally will reserve a spellbook devoted to such magic; such spellbooks are often called “tomes of forbidden knowledge.”

Universal spells are also (perhaps ironically) rare amongst the Archon parlance of spells, or at least such appears to be the case. They certainly exist, and without inhibition, but the more powerful spells are closely guarded by those who know them, as is the case with powerful spells in general. Minor tales elaborate and even embellish the events surrounding the use of such powerful magic as a true wish.

Specialist wizards are more common in Archlond, since the schools they tend to give up are fairly obvious (Necromancy, Transmutation, Illusion, Enchantment). The best developed schools of magic are Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, and Evocation (except the elemental spells), with abjurers and conjurers being the more prevalent. Spells from the abujuration and conjuration schools that would otherwise be more difficult to discover or develop (i.e. elemental, evil, chaotic, natural, or planar) still suffer the normal penalties, but spells that do not have such associations are so well known and the paths so well trodden that spellcasters gain a +4 circumstance bonus on checks to develop those spells.


Sorcerers and other spontaneous arcanists typically have it a bit easier, though they themselves are less common. Because of the Archon Theory of Magic, all sorcerers raised in Archlond have a handicap of sorts when it comes to discovering their talents. Whenever an Archon sorcerer would develop a spell that a wizard would have difficulty developing, there is simply a 25% chance that they do not discover the spell they thought they would, but instead gains another spell. This check is made before any other actions or checks are made to develop the spell. Each time a sorcerer attempts to choose a ‘difficult’ spell thereafter, the odds of failure permanently increase by 1% for every previous failure (cumulative); this increase occurs regardless of whether the chosen spell is a new venture or a ‘retry’, and regardless of whether it is a 1st or nth attempt to gain a spell at any level. The odds of failure are not affected by the level or school or type of the spell. This debilitation does not affect a sorcerer’s qualifications for any pursuit, including feats and prestige classes, except insofar as it may deprive him of certain requisite spells.

Bards follow the wizards’ guidelines insofar as they generally require a teacher to learn songs and spells. Other spellcasters follow guidelines based on whether their talents are purely inherent and spontaneous (as sorcerers), or whether they must conduct some sort of research and development (e.g. study under a mentor) to gain their abilities.


Divine spellcasters of good and lawful deities suffer no limitations on their normal spell selections; Clerics of strongly aligned deities simply do not ask (or have answered) prayers that conflict with their deity’s alignment, portfolio, etc. For example, a cleric of Moradin would not pray for an air elemental, because earth is Moradin’s domain, which is opposed to air (and technically the other elements as well). Likewise a cleric of Pelor would not pray (or have a prayer answered) to animate dead, because Pelor hates evil, darkness, and undeath, and if his cleric did so they would likely have to atone. Individual deities may have non-standard preferences and peevs about prayer and magic.

However, non-good, non-lawful clerics of non-good, non-lawful deities may not see evil or chaotic prayers answered. There is generally a 25% chance that chaotic prayers asked by non-lawful clerics of non-good deities will not be answered, and a 50% chance that an evil prayer asked by a non-good cleric of a non-lawful deity will not be answered, which stacks to a 75% chance that a chaotic evil prayer asked by a non-good, non-lawful cleric of a non-good, non-lawful deity will not be answered. For example, a true neutral cleric of Obad-Hai may not see a hammer of chaos answered 25% of the time, a protection from good spell 50% of the time, or a summon fiendish wolf 75% of the time. These chances of failure diminish by 2% per level that a non-evil deity’s cleric has attained, to a minimum of 0% chance of failure. These chances of failure stack with any other sources that induce a chance of failure, and cleric level can only reduce the chance of failure incurred by Archlond’s protective field.

Clerics of evil deities are unheard of, and it is assumed that they are unable to materialize the power of their deity in Archlond, if such death priests even exist. Such clerics will not see evil prayers answered 75% of the time, or neutral (good-evil) prayers 50% of the time, and incur the same odds of failure for chaotic spells asked of non-good deities if they are non-lawful; all odds of failure stack, so that chaotic evil prayers asked of evil deities will not be answered, thanks to the residual magic protecting Archlond from outside interference. These chances of failure diminish by 1% per level that an evil deity’s cleric has attained, to a minimum of 0% chance of failure. These chances of failure stack with any other sources that induce a chance of failure, and cleric level can only reduce the chance of failure incurred by Archlond’s protective field. Of course, the evil deities likely seek to abolish that blasted protective shell, and seek to foster any magic or attitudes to that end.


Naturally, magic items that rely on forbidden knowledge (e.g. rings of invisibility) are exceedingly rare; and use or even possession of such items may land an owner in court … or a dunking chair. For example, if a ring of invisibility were discovered in an adventurer’s possession, it might be readily assumed that his other valuable goods are stolen, and even that he was responsible for a high profile burglary some time ago. Worse, if a wand of baleful polymorph were found, a witch hunt might ensue no matter what authority backs it, and any backing authority might see trouble as well. As a rule, it is highly unlikely that any legitimate authority will authorize or condone the use or possession of magic or items that are highly chaotic or evil, such as transmutations and necromancies.



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