Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The House Without Walls

Since Magic-users can learn any number of spells or any level, the real restriction to casting how many spells they actually find. This is a good opportunity for adventuring. If a Magic-user wants to learn the Slaying Spell, they need to find the long-hidden elves of the Bone House, whereas if they want to know Invoke Elemental, they need to trek over the the Summoner's College of the Goths.

The elves of the Branch House live in the Hallows, a forest grown over the ruins of an antediluvian necropolis. They worship their patron and progenitor, He Walks In The Woods, a beast-god associated with poison, wolves, crows, shapeshifting, and hunting. The elves live in encampments scattered across Hallows, each positioned over one of the primary entrances to the catacombs beneath. The Branch House guards the tombs below, ensuring that the restless dead stay inside and the greedy living stay above. They are currently struggling against the rogue Warlock Liebestod, who wants access to the treasure and knowledge locked within the necropolis' vaults.

Spells of the Branch House Magi

It Hunts Again
Component: A basket woven from the stem of aglaophotis, that rarest and most potent of herbs
Target: The corpse of an animal, placed inside the basket
The caster falls to the ground insensate and assumes control of the creature inside the basket. The spell lasts until the caster chooses to end it, and the animal appears healthy and alive for the duration, regardless of the condition of their body. The caster can use this spell in any animal they can fit in the basket, so the larger it is, the greater the range of animals the spell works on.

This Is The Change (Polymorph)
Component: A long flint razor, kept in a scabbard of bear's gut
The caster slices open their belly with the razor, and their new form shucks itself free.

The House Without Walls (Teleport)
Component: A bag of oak leaves, individually consecrated
The caster and targets vanish in a sudden billow of leaves.

It Was But Is Not (Baleful Polymorph)
Component: a life-sized effigy of a human or elf
The caster traces an X over the eyes, mouth, and heart of the effigy. In this version of the spell, the target does not need to make a System Shock check, and they do not retain their intelligence, personality, or knowledge.

The Beasts of the Branch House
I really like the idea of players gaining new character options as they explore, but I also want to keep everything pretty simple. Multiclassing is a good outlet for this--the way multiclassing works in Delving Deeper is perfectly functional, but as it has been amply demonstrated, there are cooler ways to do it.

An elf of the Branch House can advance as either a Thief and a Fighter or a Magic-user and a Fighter. They can transform at will into an elf-beast, which takes 1 turn. In their elf form, they function as their non-Fighter class, and cannot use the Fighter's combat matrix or class abilities. In their elf-beast shape, they function as a Fighter only, and cannot cast spells as a Magic-user or use skills as a Thief. Though their saving throws progress as any dual-classed character, elves of the Branch House track maximum HP and damage received separately for each of their classes. They deduct damage from their Thief or Magic-user HP when they are in their elf shape and deduct damage from their Fighter HP when they are in their elf-beast shape. When one form reaches 0 HP, the elf immediately changes into the other, and cannot return to the other shape until they it has at least 1 HP. Restored HP spills over from one form to the other.

In their beast shape, elves of the Branch House
  • can deal damage with unarmed attacks
  • have a natural AC of 5
  • are treated as having 18 Strength
  • cannot use weapons, shields, or armor of any sort.
  • cannot speak or perform complex tasks
The Synod finds such foul sorcery gravely disordered and invites all practitioners to submit themselves to an Inquisitorial Officer, so that they may redeem themselves in the eyes of Heaven.

Art is from Dark Souls 2, Skyrim, and Demon's Souls, respectively

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